District’s new CFO puts a new number on the deficit

lglasterresize2.jpgTwo months ago, Oakland Unified’s state administrator adopted a budget prepared by former Chief Financial Officer Javetta Robinson. It projected a deficit of $1.45 million.

Leon Glaster, Oakland’s new interim CFO, said last night that he believes the deficit is actually $4.7 million — more than three times what Robinson estimated.

Glaster said the previous budget’s allotment of custodians, substitute teachers and substitute classified staff didn’t seem to account for the full cost of those positions. He also added more custodians into the budget.

District spokesman Troy Flint said staff had not yet determined how much needed to be trimmed from the budget, or what would go by the wayside. Some cuts will likely be announced in September, he said.

“This is a more realistic assessment of where the district is,” Flint said. “There’s no sense in running from the reality…” 

Glaster acknowledged his $4.7 million deficit projection might prove to be high, and that more analysis needed to be done. “I just wanted to put everything out,” he said, adding, “I don’t believe there will be a major impact on the (school) sites.”

During last night’s discussion, board members disagreed on the seriousness of the development. Board president David Kakishiba said it would be a crisis in any other district. Greg Hodge noted that it reflects less than 1 percent of the overall budget and that such swings tend to occur because of fluctuations in funding sources.

Today, Kakishiba said he felt the adjustments, made months after the budget adoption, were “symptomatic of why this board is so concerned about the financial position of the district.”

Kakishiba says he finds no fault with Glaster; his position is that the state should have restored fiscal order by now, four years into the state takeover. He didn’t think the state administration should have approved a budget with a deficit to begin with.

(An aside: Glaster made a similar adjustment, on a much smaller scale, when he came to the San Leandro school district in 2004. Read the story.)

There will be a story about this issue in tomorrow’s paper.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.