The number of California school districts facing financial distress has fallen by more than 50 percent, down to 92 from 188 a year ago, according to figures released Tuesday by the State Department of Education.
The Department releases two interim status reports a year identifying which of the 1,037 school districts, county offices of education and joint powers agencies are in financial jeopardy.
In this year’s Second Interim Status Report, eight districts received negative certifications, meaning they don’t have enough money to pay their bills and may need intervention by their county office of education. While that’s down by four from a year ago, it’s a slight increase from the First Interim Status Report for 2012-13, when seven districts were on the negative list. Another 84 districts received qualified certifications, indicating that they may not be able to cover their costs within the next two years.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson credited passage of Proposition 30 last November for much of the improvement. The ballot initiative will raise a little over $6 billion for education through temporary increases in the sales tax and incomes for the state’s wealthiest residents.
Torlakson tempered his remarks, however, noting that although the number of struggling districts has been cut in half, that still leaves many districts in fiscal danger.
“The 92 districts that still face financial jeopardy represent some 1.7 million students, and we must continue our work to get them on solid fiscal ground,” Torlakson said in a written statement.
The latest numbers represent districts’ financial status as of Jan. 31, predating Governor Brown’s May budget revisions and, according to the Department of Education, some may have changed since then.