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Oakland, CA: School budget accounting problems; "declining enrollment" and "skyrocketing" SPED

June 21, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle: Oakland schools in new mess over financial practices The Oakland school district ignored standard accounting practices and inappropriately manipulated taxpayer funds, actions that in some cases amounted to the misuse of state or federal funding, according to a report by an independent state agency that provides fiscal oversight and support to schools. The report by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, or FCMAT, comes as the Oakland Unified School District faces mounting financial woes, which include $5.8 million in imminent budget cuts as well as an estimated $20 million shortfall next year and $60 million the year after that. The analysis found that not only does the district have an unsustainable spending problem, it has significant work to do to clean up the problematic accounting practices. Examples of the inappropriate use of funds included the use of its self-insurance fund to pay for parking and legal fees as well as the use of cafeteria accounts to make state loan payments…. The district has spent more than it has received for the last three years, shortfalls caused primarily by declining enrollment — which translates to a loss of state funding — and skyrocketing special education and pension costs. The district still pays about $6 million annually on the $100 million state bailout loan from 2003. About $35 million in that debt remains.

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