Six SLO County school districts tell state they may not meet future financial obligations

Six school districts in San Luis Obispo County have alerted state education officials that they may not be able to meet their future financial obligations because of California’s budget crisis and inadequate funding for public education.

The number of districts having trouble meeting financial obligations statewide has increased by 38 percent since the beginning of the year, Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction, announced this week.

In San Luis Obispo County, the districts include: Atascadero Unified, Lucia Mar Unified, Paso Robles Joint Unified, Pleasant Valley Joint Union Elementary, San Miguel Joint Union, and Shandon Joint Unified.

In February, Superintendent Julian Crocker said that five of those districts – all but the Pleasant Valley district – had alerted the county Office of Education that they might not be able to meet their future obligations, which requires the districts to keep 3 percent of expenditures in reserves for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 fiscal years.

More than 20,000 teachers received layoff notices this year, as public education funding came in $17 billion less than anticipated over the last two budget years, according to a news release from O’Connell’s office.

The cuts have resulted in larger class sizes and cuts to sports programs, summer school, art and music programs, libraries and school nurses.

“This trend will worsen if the Governor’s proposed cuts to public education are enacted in the 2010-11 budget,” O’Connell said in the release. “I have grave concerns that more and more school districts will face financial crisis unless state lawmakers find solutions to the state budget crisis and provide adequate funding for our schools.”

The full list of schools is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/fi/ir/second0910.asp.

-- Cynthia Lambert