At its Sept., 23 meeting, the District 202 School Board unanimously approved without comment the final budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. This budget differs little from the tentative budget the Board approved on June 10. The budget is balanced for the seventh straight year, according to the executive summary. About 67 percent of school districts submitting budgets this year will submit deficit budgets, CFO William Stafford said.
At $77.7 million in projected expenditures, the budget is 3.2 percent higher than the budget for fiscal year 2013; operating costs are projected at $68 million, a 3.6 percent increase over last year. Revenues are projected to be about $77.5 million, leaving a slight surplus of around $200,000.
Salaries and benefits make up about 74 percent of the budget. For FY 2014, salaries are projected at $44.5 million, an increase of 5.2 percent over FY 2013. Four positions are added for this year: a reading specialist, a job coach, a fine arts chair and a special education position.
The District employs 534 persons – 253 teachers, 21 administrators and 253 non-certified personnel. For 2013-14 the enrollment at Evanston Township High School is projected at 2,894 students, 19 more than the prior year. The District is projecting 50 fewer students for the following year.
The District projects about a 4 percent increase in property tax revenues, for a total of about $63 million, about $58 million of which will be used for operations. Property taxes make up about 85 percent of the District’s revenues. The District also anticipates a 1.4 percent increase in federal funds.
The annual property tax levy is limited by state-imposed tax caps tied to the increase in the consumer price index. This year’s cap was 3 percent. “This modest increase barely provides the District sufficient funds to pay for its labor costs [and does not] even come close to covering the increased costs of providing health care,” said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon in his transmittal letter to the Board.
Wariness about further burdens from the state was evident in Dr. Witherspoon’s transmittal.
“What continues to be of concern with this final budget is not what is known but what is not known. We do not know what the legislature will finally decide about the budget. We do not know what the legislature will finally decide about teacher pensions and what District contributions might be. We do not know if interest rates will increase.”
Capital improvement projects are expected to be about $4 million during the year. The District anticipates funding the projects by issuing $4 million in Series 2014 bonds in the spring.
This fall the Board will update the 2103-17 capital improvement program plan. Among the projects contemplated in the 2012 CIP plan (a rolling plan) are resurfacing the parking lots; upgrading the kitchens, the Lake Street tennis courts , the track and the west side garden; replacing doors, elevators and the North School AC; adding safety lighting and installing a wind turbine.