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LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King will unveil $7.5B budget for 2017-18

Sarah Favot | June 12, 2017

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June means it’s budget time for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The district published Superintendent Michelle King’s final $7.5 billion budget proposal for the 2017-18 school year on its website late last week, making it publicly available for the first time. It’s a breezy 262 pages.

 The school board will hold a public hearing on the budget on Tuesday with public comment and will vote on it on June 20, in time to meet the July 1 deadline for the district to submit its budget to the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

 Here are some highlights:

 • In her letter to the board in the budget, King said increases in state funding will result in new magnet programs, a strategy the district has invested in to increase enrollment.

 • The district is projecting a net enrollment decline of 10,642 students from the 2016-17 school year for traditional and affiliated charter schools and a 4,089 enrollment increase for independent charter schools.

 • Despite declining enrollment, it appears that staffing will stay relatively steady, and King’s plan to reduce administrative positions will likely not result in many cuts as only 115 administrators are being notified they will lose their positions but they will be reassigned to other positions.

 • King notes there are uncertainties in the budget as state and federal budgets have not been finalized and could result in cuts to federal programs like Title 1. That could determine what staff cuts are made.

 • The total budget is $13.4 billion, but that includes fixed costs like debt service, while the board has more direct authority over the $7.5 billion.

 • LA Unified is projecting a balanced budget for next year and the following year, but in 2019-20, a $422 million deficit is projected.

 • The budget assumes the state is going to sign off on the district’s plan to address a California Department of Education ruling that the district was misspending $450 million over two years on special education. If the state does not approve the plan, district officials have said the district’s deficit could be $1.6 billion in three years.

 • The budget does not pay down any of the roughly $13.6 billion unfunded liability the district has for retiree health-care benefits. 

This is the first budget the board will approve without the leadership of Megan Reilly, the district’s former chief financial officer who left in April. But her words of warning were echoed in the report authored by the two people who are co-leading the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

“The District should also continue to find solutions to address fixed costs and long-term liabilities. The district must continue to seek efficiencies and larger academic returns on our investments. We must look within our current resources for many of these solutions,” wrote Cheryl Simpson, director of budget services and financial planning division, and deputy CFO John Walsh.

Here’s what else the board will be addressing at its meeting Tuesday.

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