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La Cañada school district is under a deficit

Interim budget reflects effects of governor's funding formula for local schools.

November 13, 2013|By Sara Cardine

The La Cañada Unified School District is working with a deficit of $671,704 according to Ruben Rojas, the chief business and operations officer for the district who presented the first interim budget to the school board Tuesday night.

The interim budget reflects recent changes made since a $36-million budget for the 2013-14 school year was adopted in August.

“These figures actually represent the structural deficit the district is currently operating under,” Rojas told board members.

This figure is lower than the $800,000 deficit officials were anticipating when the budget was passed, but is still a cause for concern in a district that strives for fiscal prudence, Rojas said.

La Cañada Unified, like all California school districts, is required to submit updated accounting figures to the state by Dec. 15 in order to certify that it is able to meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the year.

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But Tuesday's report was also a good snapshot for the three newly elected school board members who assume responsibilities at the next regular board meeting, replacing Board President Scott Tracy and members Susan Boyd and Joel Peterson. The new members, Kaitzer Puglia, Dan Jeffries and David Sagal were in attendance at the meeting.

The first interim budget reflects the impact of Gov. Jerry Brown's new Local Control Funding Formula, which will provide LCUSD with nearly $24.9 million, or roughly 68% of the total budget. They also account for the Sept. 24 donation to the district of $2.225 million from the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation as well as recent technology and special education expenditures.

“Of significance here…is that the Local Control Funding Formula is the foundation for this particular budget,” Rojas said. “We are now fully engaged with LCFF.”

Although the Local Control Funding Formula decategorizes how state dollars must be spent, state officials have identified priorities to be addressed by all districts, according to Supt. Wendy Sinnette, who discussed the matter Tuesday in her report.

Beyond that, districts must develop a Local Control Accountability Plan to outline additional local priorities, by July 1, 2014. This plan, formed by the input of all stakeholders, will help direct future budgets.

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