Township High School District 211's $285.477 million tentative budget for 2012-2013 was approved by the school board on Thursday, Aug. 16.
“I believe the budget that will reflect our commitment to continue to reduce cost and we are presenting a fiscally responsible plan,” said Associate Superintendent for Business, David Torres said,.
The school district would receive a 0.8 percent increase in property tax revenue compared to what it received in the previous fiscal year. In fiscal year 2011-2012 the school district received $200.3 million in property taxes, although the district had budgeted for $194..4 million. In the 2012-2013 budget, property tax revenue is expected to rise to $201.8 million.
In the last ten years, District 211 has increased property ten times; increases Torres said are based on the consumer price index. “Either make reductions in cuts to programs or staff to stay in balance with revenue or you can ask for more revenue,” said Torres.
“We make decisions to offset cost increases to balance the budget,” Torres said property taxes, the only consistent flow of money, makes up 85 percent of the district’s revenue. “We are not getting more money from the state or the Federal Government, but we need funding in order to sustain the quality of education in District 211,” said Torres.
In the 2012-2013 tentative budget the District has two major projects planned for the upcoming year; purchase equipment/appliances for kitchen and cafeteria renovations at Palatine High School and upgrade the entire district’s phone system.
Teachers, administrators and the district’s executive staff are budgeted to get a 3 percent increase to the employees' base pay, per contract. Torres said the actual cost to the school district will be 2.7 percent because of the number of teachers retiring.
District 211 ended the last year with a surplus of $11 million, all of that money was distributed into the reserve fund. As of June 30, 2012 District 211 had a total of $161 million dollars in reserves. “It looks like we have a lot,” Torres said, “But it’s like when you just get paid and you still have a lot of bills to pay."
The district has eight different reserve funds, each linked to a specific fund or account. Once allocated to a reserve fund, money cannot be transferred and it can only be used to pay off debt.
District 211 has $26 million worth of state mandated projects under the Health Life Safety Code. The district expects the projects to take seven years to complete, so this year it plans to sell $16 million of Life Safety bonds.
“The sale of these bonds could not come at a more appropriate time,” Torres said with the district’s 2006 bonds expiring the levy of debt services with remain the same over the year. Because the Life Safety bonds will replace old debt, “the $16 million bonds will not in anyway adversely affect taxpayers,” Torres said.
Approved by the school board, the District 211’s tentative budget for 2012-2013 is available to the public for 30 days. On Sept. 13 the school board will further review and discuss the budget, then on Sept. 27 a public hearing will be held.