L.A. Times: 30-year borrowing to buy short-lived iPads? Ho hum.

June 19, 2013

By Chris Reed

All over California, school districts are doing illogical, unethical, unseemly things with their finances.

Unconstitutional attempts to make parents pay for basic educational materials. Siphoning funds from federal school lunch programs for the operating budget. Most absurdly, using 30-year borrowing to pay for basics old (maintenance) and new (electronic teaching devices) in direct contravention of the historical use of “construction bonds” to pay for long-term capital improvements.

All of this is done because automatic “step” pay raises that most teachers get just for showing up create gigantic pressure on operating budgets in years in which the state doesn’t increase school funding significantly.

L.A. Unified’s assault on common sense

LAUSDSo when the state’s largest school district does this sort of crazy borrowing, one would assume that the state’s largest newspaper offers appropriate context in its coverage to explain why the district did so. Guess again. L.A. Times reporter Howard Blume gives NO CONTEXT AT ALL. Amazing. He didn’t even mention this angle until the 18th paragraph of a 21-paragraph story on the school board’s decision to spend $30 million on iPads that won’t be paid off until current LAUSD high schools are middle-aged:

“Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill also noted that the funding is from facility bonds, which can’t be used to hire regular school staff.

“This source of funding also has been controversial because school bonds are typically used for construction and paid off over decades.”

Paying for 2013 laptops in 2043: Insane and unexplained

Does Blume explain why it’s “controversial,” namely that it’s insane that the district will still be paying for iPads in 2043 that have been lost, broken or stolen for 28 years? Nah. It’s just “controversial,” whatever that means.

What makes this particularly pathetic is that the Times editorial page and its (anti) business columnist Michael Hiltzik have for years gone after corporate malfeasance and bad behavior. That’s perfectly appropriate. But if this sort of stuff is unacceptable in the private sector, why is it OK in the public sector?

This is never explained. Instead, governmental financial shadiness is accepted by most of the media.

Why? Seriously. Why?

I won’t hold my breath on getting a response.

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