In Partnership with 74

Why is LAUSD spending more money this year even though revenues are down?

Sarah Favot | June 27, 2017

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Even as LA Unified’s enrollment is projected to continue its downward slide next year, which means less money for the district, spending will increase compared to the previous year.

The new budget for 2017-18, approved unenthusiastically last Tuesday by the LA Unified school board, includes a 6.7 percent increase in spending from the last school year.

Total revenue to the district is projected in the budget to decrease by 1.1 percent to $7.1 billion, while total spending is expected to increase to about $7.5 billion.

Some of the decisions to increase spending are beyond the district’s control. For example, the state sets the rates at which school districts have to contribute to teacher and employee pensions.

Here is a breakdown of why spending is growing:
1. Salaries and benefits

Rising costs for employee salaries and benefits are the district’s largest costs, and they continue to go up.

• A 1.85 percent increase in the district’s contribution to CalSTRS rates for teacher pensions resulting in a $62.2 million increase from last year.
• A 1.6 percent increase in the district’s contribution to CalPERS rates for non-teacher employee pensions resulting in a $20 million increase.
• $84.7 million more for health and welfare benefits for current employees.

2. Inflation

Some increases are built into the budget every year, such as accounting for the increase in the cost of goods.

• A consumer price index increase of 3 percent is planned.

3. Utilities

The school board has known that utility costs would likely increase, even though the district has taken drastic measures with energy-saving measures.

• Utilities are projected to increase 5 percent. Water is projected to be the biggest increase.

4. Textbooks

The district is required to update textbooks and make adequate materials available to students under the terms of a lawsuit, Williams v. California.

• An increase in textbook adoption requirements has contributed to a 128 percent increase in the budget for books and supplies resulting in a $436 million increase.

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