State puts 19 school districts on 'negative' financial list

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The number of California school districts in deep financial trouble is up to 19. That’s almost four times higher than just a couple of years ago. KPCC’s Nick Roman looks at details in the list from the California Department of Education.

The state tracks school district finances. Depending on how solid they are, a district can get a “positive,” a “qualified,” or a “negative” rating.

The latest list of school districts with “qualified” ratings includes 15 local names – including L.A. Unified, Garden Grove Unified, Santa Ana Unified, Pomona Unified, Inglewood Unified, and Covina Valley Unified. They’re among 89 districts facing money trouble.

More worrisome is the list of 19 school districts that the state says “will not” meet their financial obligations next year. On that list is El Rancho Unified in Pico Rivera with about 10,000 students at 15 schools, the Antelope Valley’s Wilsona Elementary with 1,900 students at four schools, and the big one – Val Verde Unified in Perris, with more than 20,000 students at 23 schools.

School districts with “negative” financial ratings have two choices. They can cut spending to the bone, which means teacher layoffs and big cuts in arts, music, and sports programs. Or they can go bankrupt – and have the state take them over.