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Stop saying L.A. Unified has a 'surplus.' The district has savings that will soon be gone

Stop saying L.A. Unified has a 'surplus.' The district has savings that will soon be gone
Students form lines on the playground on the first day of school at Dolores Huerta Elementary in Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The L.A. Times reported in a recent piece on labor negotiations with United Teachers Los Angeles that the Los Angeles Unified School District has a surplus of “$1.86 billion, an apparent record.”

Describing L.A. Unified’s savings as surplus is misleading. It is well known and has been validated by several outside sources, including the California Department of Education and Los Angeles County Office of Education in separate presentations to the district’s Board of Education, that a portion of these savings is legally obligated to student programs.

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The savings are also being spent to provide a 6% salary raise for teachers, to pay for nurses, counselors and librarians, and to address class size. Further, these savings will be gone within a few years because L.A. Unified is spending $500 million more than it takes in every year.

The L.A. Times has a responsibility to report these facts. Our students deserve nothing less.

Tom Soto, Los Angeles

The writer is an advisory board member for Vision to Learn, the nonprofit founded by L.A. Unified Supt. Austin Beutner.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

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