Outgoing L.A. Unified Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly
Two departing officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District made the most of their swan songs Tuesday.
Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly warned of a financial precipice if the nation’s second-largest school district failed to trim spending. Outgoing board member Monica Ratliff blasted the city utility over its bills to the district, then castigated district staff for not yet solving a problem at a local elementary school.
Reilly is stepping down after a decade to accept a similar job with the Santa Clara County Office of Education.
She said L.A. Unified still has not reduced staff enough to correspond with a decline in enrollment.
"Protecting the school site should be first and foremost in our mind,” she told the Los Angeles Board of Education. "Where would you spend your next dollar — in the classroom or someplace else?”
"You can do anything you want with $8 billion that your mind can imagine," she said, referring to the district budget. "But you cannot do everything.”
Outgoing L.A. school board member Monica Ratliff
Ratliff took aim at the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power, accusing it of gouging.
"It’s ridiculous that we’re paying $20 million more in utilities," she said. "I hope the board will say to the city that we need more assistance in dealing with utility costs.”
She also criticized the facilities division for cramped quarters at Rosa Parks Learning Center. The recently built elementary school in North Hills needs three lunch periods, for example, because of poor design, she said — and an adjacent vacant lot, owned by the district, could at least be used for parking or recreation space.
District staff, she asserted, had failed to answer questions she posed months ago about the situation. And she accused Mark Hovatter, the head of facilities, of telling her that any additional construction would have to come out of her discretionary account.
"I was told I needed to come up with a lot of the money," Ratliff said, adding that her office did not have such funds. “I don’t think it’s appropriate that I should have to fund a design flaw.”
She said wanted to begin a fix for the problem before she steps down.
Hovatter said he intended to come back with a plan as well as with answers to Ratliff’s questions.
Unlike Reilly, Ratliff will have additional opportunities to speak out. Her term runs through June. She gave up her board seat for an unsuccessful run for the L.A. City Council.