At the Feb. 24 meeting of the District 202 School Board, Deputy Chief Financial Officer Mary Rodino reported that expenditures and revenues for fiscal year 2014 are for the most part on target, and that the high school is generally in the same position it was a year ago.

“We like to check in with you in the middle of the year, to assure you that expenses are in line and to let you know that [the financial situation is] comparable to what it was last year – and, if not, why not,” Ms. Rodino said.

“Historically at this time of the fiscal year, expenditures are generally 52 percent to 55 percent of the total budget for the Education Fund – which represents 75 percent of the overall District budget,” she said. Revenues in the Education Fund are at 49.5 percent, Ms. Rodino said. While this figure is “in line” with typical previous years, it is “slightly behind last year’s 51.1 percent collections. This is mainly due to lower and slower State revenues,” she added.

Revenues in the Operations and Maintenance Fund are at 52.8 percent, slightly ahead of last year, said Ms. Rodino. “We’re doing very well with rentals – athletic spaces and theater spaces.”

Board member Bill Geiger asked about a sentence in a Feb. 6 memo from Ms. Rodino and CFO Bill Stafford that said General State Aid – one category of grants from the State of Illinois – had been reduced to “88 percent of the appropriated allocation.”

“My take on that is that instead of saying, ‘The amount has been cut,’ the [State] announced it as a proration,” said Ms. Rodino. She said that, because of the vagaries in State grants over the past few years, “we’re really hesitant to list things like that as receivables. It’s $1.6 million, and we will get 88 percent of it. … It’s a lot of money, but, because of the way General State Aid is calculated, we’re always wary. …”

“It is sneaky [to call it a ‘proration’], and I think it hurts public education in a very clear way,” said Board President Gretchen Livingston. “It’s a misnomer, but it enables people to say they are going to fund education.”

“It happens every year,” said Board member Jonathan Baum.

“They do it differently every year,” said Ms. Rodino.

“How does this work in terms of the budget?” Mr. Baum asked.

“We’ve always been skeptical of getting the full amount,” Ms. Rodino said.

“We did adjust our budget very appropriately,” said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.

Mr. Stafford and Ms. Rodino will report financial projections to the Board in March.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...