What Led to Oakland Unified’s Budget Crisis…

Years of overspending has left the Oakland Unified School District millions of dollars in the hole and is forcing board members to make some tough budget cutting decisions in the coming weeks.

On Wednesday, board members are to decide where to slice $9 million from the 2017-18 mid-year budget. The proposed plan as of Dec. 8 calls for $4.2 million in cuts to school sites, district Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said at a school board meeting Thursday, despite pleas from students, teachers and parents to keep reductions as far away from students as possible.

Several factors — some beyond the district’s control, some not — led to the budget deficit, according to a post-mortem report by WestEd, a nonprofit that offers consulting services to school districts. The report said weak “internal controls” — an accounting term for systematic measures in place to maintain accurate budget and management data and safeguard assets and resources — were a key driver in the budget crisis, in that expenditures were not adjusted to reflect declining enrollment.

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