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District 202 Board reviews tentative proposed 2015-16 budget

7/29/2016, midnight
The district is on track to end the year with just over $2 million in surplus funds.

District 202 could end the 2016-17 school year with an operating surplus of about $2.2 million – if preliminary budget projections hold true.

The Plainfield District 202 Board of Education received a report on the tentative 2016-17 budget report at its July 25, 2016 regular meeting.

The Board is expected to place the tentative 2016-17 budget on 30-day public display at its August 22, 2016 regular meeting.

The Board then plans to hold a public hearing on the proposed tentative budget at 6:30 p.m. Monday, September 26, 2016 and vote on the document at its regular meeting that same night.

Please note: these figures may change slightly before the proposed tentative budget is put on public display, depending on state funding and other economic factors

OPERATING BUDGET DETAILS

District 202’s proposed 2016-17 operating budget shows expected revenues exceeding anticipated expenses by $2,249,156.

The “Operating Budget” comprises the Education, Operations and Maintenance, Transportation, IMRF/Social Security, Working Cash and Tort funds.

Once again, the final fiscal outcome will largely depend on state funding. District 202 will “prorate” state funding at 85 percent of reimbursable expenses for the third consecutive year to hedge against the state cutting funding later.

“Prorating” is the practice of budgeting general state aid at less than what the state actually owes local school districts or even what is telling districts to expect just in case the state once again reduces funding.

The state is supposedly planning to provide 100 percent of general state aid funding. However, Illinois still does not have a budget after nearly two years, prompting district officials to be cautious about state revenues, said Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Richard Engstrom.

District officials expect to receive $254.6 million in operating fund revenues, which is down about $21 million from the 2015-16 (unaudited) budget, which showed $275.6 million in revenues.

The difference is due to the state funding about 92 percent of general state aid last year when District 202 prorated for 85 percent; and the proceeds of a $12 million bond issue to fund capital projects and provide for cash flow.

The tentative 2016-17 operating budget shows $252.4 million in operating expenses. That’s up about $9.5 million or about 4 percent over the 2015-16 (unaudited) budget, which included about $242.9 million in expenses.

The tentative proposed 2016-17 budget essentially maintains staffing, service and building budgets at current levels.

It does not include funding for any major new initiatives, programs or capital expenses except for the installation of artificial turf at Plainfield High School – Central Campus and Plainfield South High School. Artificial turf will also be installed at Plainfield North and East high schools next summer.

Salaries are expected to increase by .7 percent to 2.9 percent for teachers and 2.5 percent for administration and non-union support staff.

Contract negotiations continue with the Plainfield Association of Support Staff (PASS). However, the proposed tentative budget includes sufficient funds for an expected salary increase for employees covered by the PASS agreement.

The proposed tentative budget also includes a $1 million contingency for building-specific enrollment changes and special education needs, as has been done the last several years. It also reflects a 3.5 percent increase in health care costs.

District 202 endured four years of fiscal austerity and significant budget cuts made to counter the ongoing effects of a weakened economy and 10 years of unprecedented growth.

From 2009-2012, District 202 cut about $42 million in operating expenses, mostly by eliminating about 345 full-time teaching, support staff and administrative positions.