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Sacramento: SPED costs breaking local/state school budgets

Jan 7, 2019, Sacramento Bee: The economy is booming. Why are so many California schools broke? Facing a $36 million deficit and a possible state takeover, the top budget officer at the Sacramento City Unified School District has a sober message for his counterparts around California. Sacramento is “just one of the first dominoes,” said John Quinto, the district’s chief business officer. … But Quinto’s warning hints at looming problems for many more: The costs of pensions, health care and special education outpace new revenue they’re receiving from the state and they put some schools on a trajectory for red ink…. That netted K-12 schools $78.4 billion in the budget outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown signed in June, up from $56.6 billion in 2007-08. The Legislative Analyst’s Office in a November report projected another $2.4 billion increase in the 2019-20 budget. Despite the revenue boost, schools from Sacramento to San Diego are reporting shaky finances. Sacramento’s troubles were laid bare in a December report from the state’s Financial Crisis and Management Assistance Team, which warned of growing deficits for the foreseeable future. The Paso Robles superintendent resigned in December when his school district reported that it faced a $3 million budget shortfall over two years…. Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said the pressures driving up education expenses are real, but he warns against a blanket bailout of school districts. He published a report in November that ranked the financial health of California’s public school districts based on their annual financial reports. Some of the biggest districts in the state — Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Long Beach and Sacramento — are in the worst shape. …
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