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Growing Number of Calif. School Districts At Risk Of State Takeover

The number of California school districts spending more money than they have has jumped nearly 40 percent from earlier this year. State schools chief Jack O’Connell released the names of 174 districts Tuesday and he’s blaming state budget cuts.

“I would say that the contributing factor is lack of adequate funding from the state for several years in a row, O'Connell said. "These are cuts upon cuts upon cuts. It’s totally exhausted whatever revenue they might have in terms of their surplus, in terms of money set aside.”

But for at least one struggling district, there’s more to blame than the state budget. The superintendent of Natomas Unified, in Sacramento, says his district didn’t make its own budget cuts quickly enough to offset the recession and enrollment declines.

O’Connell says 14 districts won’t be able to meet their financial obligations in the next year or two and risk being taken over by the state. Most of them are in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Another 160 more districts, including 30 in Los Angeles County alone, might fall into the red in the next three years.

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