Kaneland faces budget shortfall

By on September 18, 2009

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Assistant Superintendent for Business Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs expected that when the final district budget was approved this month, it would be balanced. However, the final version of the 2009-10 operating budget passed by the School Board Monday has an even bigger deficit than the tentative one passed in June.

Projected expenditures outweighed projected revenues by $119,000 for the $46.8 million tentative budget in June. The final budget passed by the School Board on Monday includes a deficit of $761,000 for the $47.2 million operating budget.

Fuchs said there are several reasons for the decrease in revenues and increase in expenditures projected for this school year.

The education fund expenditures are estimated to increase by approximately $2.8 million from last year, the result of increases in salaries and benefits.

The recent pay increase for teachers is approximately $1.2 million of that amount. Increases in benefits for all employees increased expenditures in the education budget by another $500,000. According to Fuchs, the district was required to spend this money, based on a surplus in the employee benefit trust fund, due to the relative good health of district employees.

Also included in the budget is $275,000 for one-time start-up money for Kaneland Harter Middle School, such as supplies and materials, and an additional $20,000 to make up for losses in state funding.

On the revenue side, the slowdown of growth in the housing market reduced revenue from impact fees and other monies the district expected from new development.

“There are no new revenues at all for this year,” Fuchs said.

The operations and maintenance expenditure budget is estimated to increase by approximately $757,000 to pay for increased costs to operate the Harter Middle School and the addition at Blackberry Creek Elementary School. This fund was balanced by transferring $500,000 in interest from the capital projects fund.

The transportation fund’s expenditures of $3.8 million include an increase of $120,000 for salaries over last year, but do not include funding for the purchase of new buses, which would have added $300,000 in expenditures. Fuchs said the district may want to consider leasing new buses in the future.

On the plus side, the federal government determined that the district will receive an additional $919,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money, a one-time amount to be used for special education purposes.

The district also continues to spend what will be a total of $65 million in bond proceeds from the passage of recent referendums for construction of the Kaneland Harter Middle School, the Blackberry Creek Elementary School addition, and the addition and remodeling of the current Kaneland Middle School.

Fuchs said the deficit still falls short of what would trigger the need for a deficit reduction plan required by the Illinois State Board of Education, which is required when the deficit is greater than one third of the ending fund balance. However, the amount is high enough to warrant close monitoring this year, as well as careful planning for next year’s budget, school officials said.

“Time is on our side to plan for next year,” Fuchs said. “We will need to bring expenditures in line for next year.”