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More California school districts on the financial brink

June 29, 2010 |  5:02 pm

An increasing number of California school districts are edging closer to financial insolvency, state officials reported Tuesday.

One immediate effect has been the layoff of teachers — probably in the thousands, although neither state officials nor the California Teachers Assn. has final numbers.

Since the beginning of 2010, the number of school systems that may be “unable to meet future financial obligations” has increased by 38%, according to the state Department of Education.

“Schools on this list are now forced to make terrible decisions to cut programs and services that students need or face bankruptcy,” said state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.

Of the state’s 1,077 school districts, 14 are classified as in especially dire condition. They are not likely to avoid bankruptcy based on their current approved budgets. L.A. County has one such school system, the Lynwood Unified School District, officials said. Other districts in this category include Hayward Unified in Alameda County, Vallejo City Unified in Solano County and Natomas Unified in Sacramento County.

An additional 160 school systems have a “qualified” financial outlook, meaning they are at risk although probably not in danger of immediate bankruptcy. Districts in that situation in L.A. County include L.A. Unified, Burbank Unified, Culver City Unified, Glendale Unified, Inglewood Unified, Montebello Unified, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified, Pomona Unified, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified and South Pasadena Unified.

About 26,000 teachers received notice in March that they might be laid off, according to data collected by the CTA. At least 9,000 of these notices have been rescinded so far. Last year also brought teacher layoffs, leading to a decline of about 15,000 in the union membership. The state has about 300,000 teachers.

Non-teaching employees also have been hard hit. Thousands have lost jobs in Los Angeles Unified alone. Many of those still working have experienced pay cuts, while students have to deal with larger classes, a shorter school year and decreased services.

The education portion of the current budget proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could result in additional layoffs, although other sectors of governments have faced even steeper cuts.

-- Howard Blume