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King asks LAUSD managers to tell her how they would slash 30 percent from their budgets

LA School Report | September 19, 2016

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KPCC logoBy Kyle Stokes

Superintendent Michelle King has asked managers in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s central offices to submit plans outlining how they would slash their departments’ budgets by 30 percent in the coming fiscal year, according to a memo obtained by KPCC.

For now, it’s just a planning exercise. But top district officials say the aggressive cost-cutting target — the reductions would total more than $112 million if fully implemented — falls in line with King’s vision for a slimmed-down headquarters and a district in which school sites are given greater control over their own budgets.

“It’s not just another 5 percent drill,” said L.A. Unified Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly. (Some central office departments took a 5 percent cut this year, saving a total of $11 million.)

For managers to hit their cost-saving targets of 30 percent, they couldn’t simply close open positions or pick off other similar low-hanging fruit in their budgets. The idea behind the exercise, Reilly said, is to prompt central office managers to completely rethink how they operate as declining enrollment in L.A. Unified kinks the district’s revenue stream.

“You can’t get to 30 percent without really reinventing yourself or basically talking about consolidation in other types of functions,” Reilly said.

“I call it an exercise,” Reilly added later, “but this is, in reality, something we will be going through … to look at how do we work effectively with a smaller, leaner kind of headquarters.”

L.A. Unified’s own projections show an operating shortfall of up to $663 million in the 2017-18 budget year. If that holds true, the long-term fiscal stabilization plan approved in June calls for $60 million in cuts to central office departments next year.

That grim projection, however, does not factor in new revenues the district could see from Proposition 55, a measure on the statewide ballot in November that would extend an income tax increase on the rich to benefit healthcare programs and schools.

The measure, which one poll showed as leading by a wide margin, could net L.A. Unified as much as $120 million in new revenues starting in 2018-19, district projections show.

To read the full article from KPCC, click here

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