UTLA statement on LAUSD’s $1.86 billion in reserves

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LAUSD’s $1.86 billion in reserves
Unrestricted ending balance (“reserves”) is now at $1.863 billion for the end of the 2017-18 school year

Today, LAUSD will present its Unaudited Actuals Report. The report shows that LAUSD’s unrestricted ending balance (“reserves”) is now at $1.863 billion for the end of the 2017-18 school year—even larger than its previous estimates of $1.7 billion.

LAUSD’s financial officials have a history of pointing to an apocalyptic third year out in their budget documents, and the board has a history of using that third year to justify draconian cuts and neglect on our campuses and in our classrooms. However, we never get to the apocalypse. The following chart (also attached) compares what the district historically claimed was going to happen in the third year versus what actually happened. The district’s projected deficits in the third year have never occurred. In fact, in 2015-2016, district officials projected a $105 million unrestricted ending balance for 2017-2018. They were only $1.7 billion off.


LAUSD’s $1.86 billion in reserves
LAUSD’s $1.86 billion in reserves

This deliberate understatement of available money underscores the district’s credibility problems as Superintendent Austin Beutner continues to claim that there is no money to improve classroom conditions and respect educators, and refuses to act in good faith and participate in mediation. 

The state requires only a 1% reserve, yet LAUSD has 26.5% in reserves. We have not been shown why it is so high, nor why district officials continue to ignore requests for financial information, the basis for why they say UTLA’s bargaining proposals are unreasonable. 

LAUSD has supposedly offered to let UTLA audit its books, an offer that UTLA has accepted. However, the district continues to refuse to provide key financial information, including withholding information on donations and consultants. The district’s refusal to provide information has forced UTLA to file Unfair Labor Practice charges with the state.

Today, UTLA reiterates our acceptance of the challenge to audit LAUSD’s books in our effort to draw out transparency and accountability where they have been absent, to genuinely review financial documents in support of students and reinvesting in public schools.

In the wake of UTLA’s 98% strike authorization vote—an overwhelming show of solidarity in support of our bargaining demands—we demand that Supt. Beutner stop acting in bad faith, respect the legal process for bargaining, and get directly to mediation. Setting a date 56 days from impasse is an insult not just to the legal process established around collective bargaining, but to LAUSD educators, who are fighting on behalf of our students and communities.