In advance of contract negotiations, CTC (the union representing CCSD15 teachers) started an ad campaign to discredit financial claims made by the school administration. In their ad CTC suggests the district has a history of "grossly inaccurate projections", obviously to convey the impression the district routinely underestimates revenue.
For 2008 CTC demonstrates the district budgeted for a deficit of $2.5 million but experienced a deficit of only $206,000. So, it must have "found" over $2 million in unanticipated revenue, right? Wrong. Actual revenue came in $1.6 million less than projected. The reason for the lower ending deficit was the district took aggressive cost savings steps throughout the year to minimize the ending red ink.
For 2010 CTC claims the district projected a budget deficit of $1.2 million but actually experienced a surplus of $6.8 million. While true, when the district drew up the original budget it could not possibly have known the effect of two one-time windfalls. About $5 million came from a change in how Cook County collected taxes, which simply advanced the collection of taxes from the next budget year while not increasing them. About $3 million more came from temporary Federal Stimulus funds. Was this really poor forecasting?
CTC's most recent ad looks at the fund balances of past years to suggest projections of a declining fund balance in future years is somehow flawed. Are they disputing the projected future revenue growth based on the Consumer Price Index? Are they disputing the projected expense for wages and benefits based upon the existing union contract? We don't know as they are silent on both.
CTC fails to recognize that it has been mostly cost containment actions that have produced the past financial results they presented. As such, per the Illinois Interactive Report Card CCSD15 now has the highest class sizes of its three closest neighboring districts after having eliminated 132 teachers since 2002. Suggesting those same past financial results will magically occur in the future without something giving is just wishful thinking. Let’s hope that the “something giving” is not even higher class sizes, essentially funding our deficits on the backs of our kids.