Budget Deficits for Dallas Schools Decrease

Projected deficit drops from $84 million to $28 million

The Dallas school district's projected budget shortfall for this fiscal year is less than expected but independent auditors are likely to issue another negative audit next month, officials said.

District officials said the deficit was projected to be $84 million. They now say that unexpected state and local revenues have reduced the deficit to about $75 million. Along with various program changes, school officials said the deficit is projected at about $28 million.

"There's still a deficit that is significant," Superintendent Michael Hinojosa told trustees at a meeting Thursday, The Dallas Morning News reported for an online story. But he added that other measures are being explored to further close the gap, including a proposal to pay about 300 teachers with federal grant money.

Last year's budget deficit also is lower than projected. The deficit has dropped from $64 million to about $52 million, district officials said. The amount was lowered by various factors, including an additional $7 million in state aid and a $1.6 million reduction in workers compensation expenses. The district used money in its reserve fund to make up for last year's deficit.

The problems have been blamed on failures by the district's finance and accounting offices.

Chief financial officer Steve Korby said the expected negative audit is because the district did not have time to fix problems highlighted in last year's stinging audit before the 2007-08 fiscal year ended.

He said he expects that by this time next year, most of the changes to district accounting procedures and oversight will be in place, and that a review of current-year spending-- to be released next fall -- "will show substantial progress."

The school district has recently rehired 57 teachers who had been among the hundreds laid off.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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