Thursday, January 20, 2011

D300 Budget Cuts Sharpened At Finance Committee Meet

The Board of Education Finance Committee discussed revisions to District 300's draft 2011-12 budget Wednesday but said they still didn't know if a 67 percent increase in Illinois' income tax rate would help them dig out of a projected $8.3 million deficit.

A week after the measure passed there's been no word from Springfield on the tax hike's impact on State aid to education.  "I don't think they have a plan," said Board Member Chris Stanton.

State funds provide about one quarter of District 300's yearly revenue and with the school year half over the State's paid nothing of what it owes so far, around $9 million.  Member Dave Alessio was hopeful that will change now.  "They'll look like fools if they pass the increase and then don't pay the bills."

How much money the District can expect from the State next year is the main area of uncertainty in the new budget, according to Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Crates.  Last week the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics announced the cost of living rose 1.5 percent in 2010. That sets the cap on any increase in property taxes due next year.  Likewise, Crates said, she's pretty sure how many students the District's going to have.  "We just got our enrollment projections done today," she said.  "I'm already figuring out how many teachers we're going to need."

What they'll teach is going to be one of the big questions the Board will face.  Crates' latest revision of the budget hitlist puts cuts in elective course costs at a minimum of $250,000, and as high as $2.5 million if the District can't win a wage and benefit freeze in coming teacher contract negotiations.  "What that'll be is the minimum State requirement for graduation," summed up Alessio.

The full Board of Education meets Monday to review the latest version of proposed budget reductions and perhaps to change the schedule of meetings about them, too.  Board President Joe Stevens said he thought suggestions from the public ought to come before the Finance Committee does its final review but the deadline for a new budget will remain Feb. 28.

Separately, the Board announced Wednesday that the next meeting and the ones from now on will move to Algonquin's Westfield School.  The announcement said the boardroom at District headquarters in Carpentersville is too small for the crowds that have been turning up lately.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

The only thing the tax increase will do is go to pensions.