Palmdale school finance iffy

first_imgPALMDALE – County authorities continue to monitor finances in the Palmdale School District, whose officials projected that district budgets in the next two fiscal years will end with reserves below the required 3 percent. Indicating the district might not be able to meet its financial obligations over the next three years without spending cuts, school officials this month submitted a third “qualified” budget report since March to the Los Angeles County Office of Education. “We don’t have enough income to cover our expenses, but the … news has improved from last time. We are making good progress, but we are not yet where we need to be,” Deputy Superintendent Lori Ordway-Peck said last week. The district board adopted a general fund budget of $198 million for the 2005-06 fiscal year, with a projected reserve of about $5.1 million, just over the 3 percent level. Factors beyond local control complicate planning,” Epstein said. `We are not sure that the variables would match up in a positive way. We have to do further examination. The goal is to secure financial stability now and into the future.” County education officials last school year called for a third interim budget report from the district in June. For the first time, teacher contract talks have advanced from impasse to the fact-finding stage, which could lead to trustees’ unilaterally imposing a contract on teachers. A state mediator sent the negotiations to the next stage in July after he met with district representatives and union officials and found both sides still far apart on health benefits. In June, Palmdale teachers overwhelmingly voted to reject a proposed contract that offered no raise and opened the possibility that they would have to pay part of their health insurance premiums in 2007-08. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake The next two fiscal years, however, are expected to end with reserves under 3 percent. The board in March cut nearly $5.7 million to help balance the current year’s budget and was looking to slash an additional $900,000, but further cuts became unnecessary when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped his plan to shift responsibility for making payments into a teachers retirement fund onto the school districts. “The governor decided to pull that piece. We’d put that money aside, and money was there to address the deficit,” trustee Sheldon Epstein said. The budget shortfall could be affected by factors including student population growth, which could bring in more state revenue, and settlement with the teachers union on a contract, Ordway-Peck said. “Funding from the state is looking more positive, but it could go the other way,” Ordway-Peck said. “In January, we will have the governor’s budget proposal. That will frame the environment within which we will have to work.” last_img

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