Inglewood Unified finances push it closer to state takeover

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File: An empty classroom.

The Inglewood Unified School Board met Wednesday night for its first meeting of the year. While many California public schools are facing state budget cuts, this 12,000-student district is bracing itself for especially tough decisions as it expects to run out of money in the next few months.

The school board agenda included the results of an independent audit for the last fiscal year. The news was less than promising.

According to the audit, Inglewood Unified's finances "raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern." Many educators and board members worry this means bankruptcy is likely.

If the district isn't able to reverse its financial slide, the state would likely strip the school board of its powers and take control.

An $18 million deficit is expected to slam the district by the end of fiscal year 2011-2012. The superintendent has recommended taking out loans, freezing expenses and laying off employees.

Inglewood schools have already dismissed 223 workers, mostly teachers, to cut the deficit. The president of the teachers' union said a declaration of bankruptcy and a state takeover would stem the flow of red ink.

The superintendent blamed Inglewood Unified's financial problems on dropping student enrollment, along with special education, transportation and maintenance costs.

But the audit said negative cash flow and a general fund below recommended levels are two of the deficit's primary causes.

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