Tentative Kaneland budget has $2.5M shortfall

By on July 2, 2010

District hit by higher costs
by Martha Quetsch
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board adopted a tentative 2010-11 District 302 operating budget on Monday that has a $2.5 million shortfall, despite drastic cost-cutting measures taken this spring.

The tentative operating budget includes revenue of $44.1 million and expenditures of $46.6 million.

Comparatively, 2009-10 operating revenue was $46 million and expenditures totaled $45.7 million.

The main reasons for the projected drop in district revenue were the lack of local new property growth, the expected decrease in state-mandated categorical grants and the state property tax cap, Kaneland Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs said.

Fuchs also cited two reasons projected 2010-11 expenditures are higher than expenses last year, despite the School Board having reduced costs by $4.3 this spring through cuts in staff, supplies and substitute-teacher pay.

“Our (employee) health insurance came in nearly 20 percent ($1 million) higher, and projected special education program tuition and transportation costs are $1 million more,” Fuchs said. “Not only are the (special education) costs going up, but we continue to have more kids that need special placement.”

The district will use existing funds to cover the budget deficit.

The budget is available for the public to examine at the district office through Sept. 13. On that date, the district will hold a public hearing and approve the final budget.

Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said district officials expect some changes to the budget before the board approves it, but none that will be significant on the expenditure side.

“The vast majority of our costs are in personnel, and our staffing plan has been established for next school year,” Schuler said.

District officials are hopeful but uncertain that the revenue picture will improve by September.

“In our tentative budget, we were very conservative in our projections for state revenue given that we still don’t have specific information regarding how much money we will receive from the state this year,” Schuler said.

The state of Illinois is $3.2 million behind in categorical grant payments it owes the district, which significantly affected the transportation and education funds, Schuler said.

Kaneland Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs said the district will continue to obtain information and updates from the state throughout the summer.