On Sept. 24, the District 202 School Board approved its budget for fiscal year 2013, its sixth consecutive balanced budget. Despite persistent problems with getting payments of more than $1 million due the State of Illinois and a 2010 Consumer Price Index of 1.5 percent – which limits the amount the school can levy for property taxes – the budget, at $74.3 million shows a 0.1 percent decrease from the previous year.

Last spring, Chief Financial Officer William Stafford told the Board that there would be a “minor” deficit in FY 2014 and a balanced budget in the two following years. “We’ve done what we needed to do to achieve real financial stability,” he said.

In accordance with the District’s “value-based budgeting” administrators say they strive to keep the majority of budget reductions in areas other than those directly connected to students. Instruction is the top priority, reported Mr. Stafford, as is maintaining a “reasonable” student-teacher ratio and avoiding personnel layoffs “whenever possible.”

Mr. Stafford said those reductions included $1.5 million in non-certificated personnel, use of the IMRF Early Retirement Incentive and reductions in supplies and contractual services. In addition, the District has continued to save on energy costs from its four-day summer school schedule, reduced overtime, food and postage.

The Board met only briefly on Sept. 24 in order to approve the budget, which was required, by State law, to occur by the end of September. The Board postponed other business originally scheduled for the meeting because of the shooting death over the weekend of Evanston Township High School freshman Dajae Coleman, said Mr. Stafford.