ORANGE : Schools Demand 100% Return From Fund

Trustees of the Orange Unified School District voted to demand a return of all of their money from the county's bankrupt fund but refused to support a resolution demanding the same for all school districts.

Earlier this month, the school board had deferred voting on a standard resolution being passed by districts across the county because the wording said all districts should get their money back.

Last week, trustees passed a revised statement that dropped reference to any other agency, because some districts had borrowed money to invest in the fund and others had padded their budget requests to the state, they said.

The state's education code mandates that school districts deposit their money in the county treasury, and Orange Unified had about $19 million in the fund when it collapsed. The trustees said they had deposited only the minimum required and thus deserve to have it all returned, with interest.

Other districts, however, borrowed money to invest, saw some high returns before the bankruptcy, and should have to absorb the loss, several trustees said.

Trustee Robert H. Viviano noted that Orange Unified has suffered through years of budget cuts to avoid debt, and other districts should have been as careful.

"They took the gains and now the burdens are to be shared by those who took the difficult road," he said.

The resolution passed by a 7-0 vote.

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