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posted 10/4/2013
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Superintendent posting

At their Regular Business Meeting Thursday, September 19th, the District 57 Board of Education adopted a budget for fiscal year 2014. The District's financial situation has improved over the past couple years, thanks to spending cuts and the careful allocation of limited resources. So while we still face economic challenges and unknowns, I am pleased to report that finances are stable.

The budget was prepared by Administration and includes assumptions that the Board and administrators have been fine tuning since last April. District 57's projected revenues are $24.4 million, while projected expenditures are $24.6 million. This results in projected deficit spending of about $200,000, which comes out of our fund balances. While this sounds like a lot of money in a household budget, it is a small percentage of a $24 million budget. It is not uncommon for school districts to spend some money out of fund balances.

District 57's fund balances are healthy, totaling between 50 and 60 percent of operating expenses. Our goal is to maintain a fund balance between 30 and 50 percent, with a target of 40 percent -- because it provides enough funds to operate for four months if revenue is delinquent. Our healthy fund balances are one indicator of District 57 being a responsible steward of taxpayer resources. This contributed to the Illinois State Board of Education recognizing the District for fiscal strength last spring.

Like the last few budgets, this year's budget also includes $750,000 for capital projects. Our four school buildings need constant attention to keep them safe and up to date. The District maintains a Master Facility Plan, which determines projects we undertake. The plan is updated annually and prioritizes the most urgent work that is required.

Because the District is in a more stable financial situation, we would like to consider enhancing educational opportunities for students, and possibly look at reinstating some programs that were cut. This would mean prioritizing in a fiscally responsible way. But before we can do this, we must finalize our agreement with the Mount Prospect Education Association. We value our teachers, and our first priority is to come to an agreement that is acceptable to all who are involved. (When an agreement is reached, the budget will be amended accordingly.)

While District 57's economic landscape is now stable, Illinois school districts continue to face many hurdles, including tax objections, unfunded mandates, diminishing General State Aid and anticipated pension reform -- all of which affect District 57 as well. We are thankful that, due to continued cost-containment measures, our District is positioned to withstand the impact that could result from any pension reform that comes out of Springfield, as well as other difficulties. But we will continue to be careful about spending decisions, as there still are many challenges that could come our way.

If you would like to review District 57's budget in detail, you can find it on the web site at http://d57.org/administrative-departments/budget.

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