Four school districts in San Diego County are warning the state that they may be unable to cover their costs during this or the next two school years, the California Department of Education reported today.

The school districts are La Mesa-Spring Valley, Oceanside Unified, Ramona and San Ysidro.

California calls it a “fiscal early warning list” for school districts. The four local school districts are part of a growing number of systems in the same financial boat: 160 school districts and other educational agencies across the state might not be able to cover their costs in the next two years, compared to roughly half as many school districts in the same situation at this time last year.

It could be worse, though: While local school districts may have trouble in years to come — a sort of a yellow flag — no school districts in San Diego County indicated that they are actually unable to cover their costs for this or next year — a definite red flag. Fourteen California school districts elsewhere in the state are waving that red flag.

School districts judge for themselves whether they will be able to cover their costs. County offices of education then review those decisions and can agree or overrule them. If school districts and their county offices disagree, the state superintendent decides who is right.

A press release from the California Department of Education indicated that the growing numbers of school districts waving those yellow and red flags are symptomatic of the budget crunch:

“We are seeing an alarming spike in the number of school districts that are having trouble meeting their financial obligations,” said (State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack) O’Connell. … “I have grave concerns that more and more school districts will face financial crisis unless state lawmakers find solutions to the state budget crisis and provide adequate funding for our schools.”


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