The Los Angeles Unified School District still has an opportunity to right a particularly wasteful wrong. It seems that some well-intentioned district rules got in the way of some common sense.

The district says it can't use $13.6 million.

That's actually its position.

Here's the story: The district is in one of its most dire budget years ever; it had to slice $220 million from its 1991 budget. Come September, kindergarten teachers may have to vacuum their own classroom floors; field trips to local museums may be luxuries affordable only if PTAs stage fund-raisers.

And these are some of the "easy" cuts.

With so much financial woe, one wouldn't think the district would look a gift horse in the mouth. But that's precisely what happened recently when the district said it would have to turn back $13.6 million in state bond funding, because the money was earmarked for renovations the district wasn't up to making. The priorities, it said, are planning for new classroom construction and renovation of year-round schools.

Yet the district didn't actually have the money for many of these planned construction projects.

So, strangely enough, while the district went begging for staff and funding for certain types of projects, millions of dollars for other renovation projects sat untouched.

And some undone repairs are of an urgent nature, such as fire and building code hazards in a high school lab built in the 1920s.

It never did make a whit of sense. The board has a chance to fix a policy gone awry.

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