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On Aug. 19, the District 65 School Board approved a tentative budget for its fiscal year ending June 30, 2014 (FY ’14). Operating revenues are projected at $105.8 million, up 2.9 percent over the prior year. Operating expenses are projected at $104.7 million, up 2.6 percent over the prior year.
The operating budget has a surplus of approximately $1.6 million, said Kathy Zalewski, comptroller for the District. The District plans to prepay approximately $900,000 in expenses in FY’14 that become due in FY’15, so the surplus after those prepayments will be about $240,000, she said.
Ms. Zalewski also presented revised financial projections that show a surplus of $29,570 for FY’15, and then deficits of $2 million in FY’16, $3.7 million in FY’17 and $6.4 million in FY’18. The projections do not include any amount on the expense side for the possibility that the State legislature may shift teacher pension costs to school districts.
On the revenue side, the District is projecting that the property tax revenues it collects for operations in FY ’14 will be $81.6 million, up 5.1 percent over the prior year. Property taxes make up about 77 percent of the District’s operating revenues.
State and federal grants, which account for 16 percent of the District’s operating revenues, are expected to be about $18.3 million, $370,000 less than last year. Local revenues are expected to be $490,000 less than last year, primarily due to the District’s election to take two TIF payments from the City in FY’13 rather than one each in FY’13 and FY’14.
On the expense side, salaries are pegged at $73.7 million, up 2.2 percent over last year. Employee benefits are projected to decrease to $14.9 million, a 1 percent decrease. Ms. Zalewski said the cost of medical insurance was budgeted to decrease by 3 percent and the remaining benefits to increase by 5 percent. Salaries and benefits, together, account for 83 percent of the District’s operating expenses.
Some key assumptions impacting expenses are that the District’s enrollment will increase by 144 students to 7,171 students (not including Park and Rice schools or pre-K students) and that staff will increase by a total of 18.5 positions. Average class sizes are projected to be the same as last year.
Ms. Zaleweski said the new staff positions are as follows:
• 10 new teaching postions due to increased student enrollment and programmatic needs.
• Six new assistant principal positions for Bessie Rhodes, Nichols, Willard, Dewey, Lincoln and Kingsley.
• One and one-half positions in the information services department. These positions will bring services in house that were previously outsourced and are expected to be revenue neutral.
• One position in the business office to provide support with the collection of student and childcare fees.
The Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the tenative budget on Sept. 23 and to approve a final budget that same night.