The state Department of Education took over the Inglewood Unified School District in 2012, arguing that state intervention was needed to save the district from insolvency. But in 2017, after five years of state control, the district was facing an $8.1 million budget shortfall “brought on by a series of major errors in revenue and spending projections that, in retrospect, had little connection to reality,” the Los Angeles Times reported this week.
A recent state report found that among other things, the district hadn't monitored its budget, underestimated its salary costs by about $1 million, and overestimated its revenue, in part by incorrectly counting the number of students. The report also found that although the district has access to tens of millions of dollars earmarked for facility upgrades, very little has been spent on its many buildings in need of serious repair.
The Department of Education has a mandate to bring financial stability. “Instead,” the Times wrote, “the district has cycled through three leaders – not including interim appointees – chosen by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. None has stayed long. The chaos of constant turnover has contributed to uncertainty over whether the school system still can be saved.”
A spokesman for Torlakson blamed the district’s financial problems in part on declining enrollment and an increasing number of students enrolling in charter schools. The spokesman “admitted no error or responsibility on the state’s part,” the Times wrote. (Source: Los Angeles Times, April 9.)