On Sept. 27, the District 65 School Board approved a final budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. The budget pegs operating revenues at $100.6 million, up $5.6 million, or 5.9%, over last year. Operating expenses are pegged at $99.4 million, up $4.5 million, or 4.7%, over last year. The budget projects an operating surplus of about $1.2 million.

The Board approved a tentative budget on Aug. 16. On Aug. 11 the District was projecting a surplus of about $2.1 million. The drop of about $900,000 in the projected surplus since that time is due primarily to an increase in employee expenses by $876,000.

State Aid and Personnel

The budget for this year was in a state of flux due to concerns that the State would cut state aid by $2.7 million to $5.5 million. As time went on, the cuts were not as deep as originally feared, but the State did miss making some categorical payments that were due last year. This year’s budget includes the past due categorical payments and only one of four categorical payments due this year. The District is budgeting to receive a total of $10.4 million in state funding for the 2010-11 school year. In the two prior years, the District received $8.6 million (2008-09) and $9.5 million (2009-10).

In anticipation of cuts in state funding, the District issued reduction in force (RIF) notices to 29 teachers in March in order to manage anticipated drops in state funding. Many, but not all, of those teachers were rehired.

Pat Markham, director of communications for the District, told the RoundTable that this year the budget builds in expenses for 664 teachers, librarians, social workers and other members of the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers union). Last year, the number was 665. The certified staff is thus essentially the same as last year.

Salaries are budgeted at $68.2 million, up $2.2 million, or 3.3% more than last year.

While the levels of certified staff are essentially the same, the number of students has increased by 170 students, according to data presented by Paul Brinson, chief information officer for the District.

Cash Position

Kathy Zalewski, comptroller, said the District finished its last fiscal year ending June 30, 2010 with an operating surplus of $78,375. Assuming the District finishes this year with an operating surplus of $1.2 million, the District will have an ending cash balance in all operating funds (including the working cash fund) in the amount of about $20.2 million. The cash reserves are equivalent to about 74 days of operating expenses.

Projected Deficits

The District presented revised projections to the Finance Committee on Sept. 20. They project a surplus of $2 million in 2011-12 and then deficits of $2.9 million, $3.5 million and $5.2 million in the following three years. The cumulative deficit for this and the next four years is projected at about $8.4 million.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...