District attempts to balance budget amid unknowns

By on December 18, 2009

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—As Kaneland School District officials work to chop away at the $2.6 million deficit in the budget for 2010-11, they are dealing with several unknown variables. The expected revenues, which already are lower this year, based on slow growth and a record-low consumer-price index, may be dealt an even-bigger blow by the state of Illinois.

“There’s revenue—what the state is expected to provide to us, and then there’s cash—when we get it,” District Superintendent Charlie McCormick said.

Projected revenues for the 2010-11 school year are based on a number of assumptions, which include local property and corporate taxes, as well as funding provided by the state and federal government. Next to property taxes, Kaneland’s second largest source of revenue is the General State Aid (GSA) from the state.

Although the state has so far made its GSA payments, there is uncertainty about state categorical programs funding, including when and even if it will come.

State categorical funding, the school district’s third largest source of revenue, funds special education programs, transportation, and supports a few block grants. Although the district expects a total of $4.8 million this year, the state so far has only paid $6,700 of that amount.

Last year, the district finally did receive all the funding owed it from the state, but not until June or July, after the school fiscal year was over. At that, the state was only able to honor its commitments statewide by borrowing $1 billion.

This year, the state was assisted by $550,000 it received from the federal government through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Next year, that funding goes away. When this money is no longer available, there is no plan in the works to replace it with state level income.

“Revenue sources are down across the board,” Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs said. “Unfortunately, there’s no good news on revenue.”

The other uncertainty relates to expenditures. With salary costs, the majority of the district’s expenditures ($29.5 million of the $47.2 million budget), the administration went back to the teacher’s union to ask it to renegotiate its contracted raise for next year.

The negotiated 5.6-percent salary increases for the teachers for next year equal $1.2 million of the budget.

According to McCormick, the administration does not expect to hear back from the Kaneland Educators Association until after the beginning of the year.

“We’re likely to receive some response in January,” he said. “We have to proceed with the numbers we have.”

Budget cuts timeline
Dec. 15: Board formally directs administration to
balance the 2011 budget

Jan. 11: Administration introduces general budget deficit
reductions to the School Board

Jan. 25: Administration lays out more specifics

Feb. 8: Public hearing scheduled, during which members of the
community have an opportunity to provide feedback

March 8: Administration identifies personnel actions for
budget deficit reduction*

March 22: Administration’s final report

*According to the Illinois School Code, notices of job cuts must take place in
March in order to be implemented by the end of the school year.