LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — More than half a million dollars in school district money that could be used for supplies has been sitting unused for years.
CBSLA’s David Goldstein searched the California state controller’s office database for unclaimed property and found more than $580,000 for the Los Angeles Unified school district – including almost $240,000 owed to individual schools.
Checks that end up on the database have gone uncashed for at least three years, and some are for thousands of dollars that have been sitting for years, including one for $37,000 from SoCal Gas dating back to 2014. That’s enough money to buy 15,000 notebooks.
Another $29,000 from State Farm was uncovered – enough to purchase 152,000 pencils – along with tousands more from Coca-Cola for the schools’ share of vending machine money. Roughly $10,000 from Apple sitting idle since at least 2007 was also found.
The largest amount owed to any one school was for Birmingham Charter High in Van Nuys – more than $24,000.
While it’s impossible to tell what the funds are for, since it’s owed to the LAUSD Education Foundation it could have been a donation that was never cashed.
Will Page, a teacher at Thomas Star King Junior High School near Silver Lake, says he and most other teachers spend about $700 a year of their own money on supplies.
But when Goldstein found more than $3,600 for Thomas Star King School sitting unused, Page was stunned.
“Thirty-six hundred dollars doesn’t sound like a lot, but what we can do we you get resourceful is make a huge impact on kids,” he said.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Associated gave the district a failing grade after Goldstein showed them what he found.
“If they walked into a room and found a hundred dollar bill on the floor, wouldn’t they pick it up? They should pick up their money,” the association said.
It comes just months after the district was crying poverty and begging voters to pass Measure EE, a tax to raise money. It was opposed by the Jarvis Foundation and ultimately rejected by voters.
“And what they would like is for the taxpayers to just think all the time is that the solution is higher taxes,” the association said. “But the solution is usually better management.”
LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner refused numerous requests for an interview, but his office issued this statement: “Every quarter, Los Angeles Unified reviews California’s Unclaimed Property database to identify funds that belong to the District. These unclaimed funds can be as small as $0.01. If unclaimed funds are found, Los Angeles Unified works to recover funds from businesses or from the State of California by submitting the appropriate claims. Los Angeles Unified recently reviewed 37 unclaimed properties on the Controller’s website. Claims had already been filed on 34 of these items by Los Angeles Unified, but the claims were denied. Los Angeles Unified has been able to recover more than $166,000 over the past ten years through other claims. Los Angeles Unified will continue working with the State to recover unclaimed funds.”
Click here to view a map of LAUSD unclaimed money.