Budget Forums Detail District 15’s Financial Standing

The District’s recent Budget Information Forums explained the District's structural deficit problems and its need to bring its spending more in line with its revenues.

Community’s priorities will help determine solutions to deficit problems

Community Consolidated School District 15 is projected to run a $6.2 million deficit this year, and, without any reductions, a nearly $10 million deficit in fiscal year 2012-13. If not addressed, annual budget shortfalls such as these are projected to reduce the District’s current fund balance from approximately $55 million, which represents almost 40 percent of its budget, to about $4.8 million, or roughly 3 percent of its budget, by the end of fiscal year 2015-16.

The District’s recent Budget Information Forums were intended to explain this problem. To correct its structural deficit and maintain a strong financial position, the District must bring its spending more in line with its revenues. Consequently, the Board of Education has asked the administration to create a list of potential spending reductions for the 2012-13 school year totaling $10 million. Once the administration develops that list, it will hold additional forums in January to provide staff and community members with opportunities to offer their feedback and help prioritize the items presented. This list will be presented to the Board who will then determine the final reduction target.

“People ask if we are in this situation because we have not managed our money well, because we are overspending,” said Superintendent Scott Thompson during a recent Budget Information Forum. “The facts don’t support those beliefs.”

On average, the 13 other elementary districts in North Cook County spend $4,440 more per student than District 15, whose 2009-2010 per-pupil expenses came to just $12,865. Nearby districts in Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, and Wheeling spend an average of $2,850 more per child per year.

District 15’s salary figures compare similarly. Salaries and benefits typically represent 80 to 85 percent of most school districts’ budgets, and District 15 is no different—82 percent of its money pays for its employees.

On average, though, administrators in those nearby districts receive salaries $24,444 larger than the average District 15 administrator, who makes $104,424 a year. The average District 15 teacher receives a salary of $73,774 a year—$445 more than the average of those nearby districts.

However, the average number of students in District 15 classes is three, four, and even five students larger than the student-to-teacher ratios in neighboring districts. In District 15, average class sizes range from 20.6 students in kindergarten to 28.2 students in eighth grade. In those nearby districts, class size averages range from as low as 16.3 students up to 22.2 students.

“We’re not an extravagant school district,” said Mr. Thompson. “We have not misused our funds, nor have we been negligent in handling our finances. In fact, we’ve been providing a quality education for kids, and we’ve been doing it at a reasonable expense.”

“The District finds itself in the current budgetary situation because our revenue has not kept up with our expenditures,” he concluded.

“In January, we will start to explore what we can do to bring our expenditures more in line with our revenue,” said Mr. Thompson. “That won’t be easy. As a community, we will have to work together to determine our priorities in order to find a workable solution for these financial problems.”

-Story Submitted by Community Consolidated School District 15

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bucephalus December 23, 2011 at 09:37 PM
I'm glad to see this story posted. Being informed about the financial is extremely important when discussions about such matters come up. I hope many more people read this.
Mark December 29, 2011 at 01:30 AM
Lumping Schaumburg, Arlington Heights and Wheeling to state their average admin salary exceeds D15's is misleading. Looking at the raw data available on http://www.openthebooks.com will show that its is almost exclusively Schaumburg D54's bloated salaries that are the culprit. Furthermore, spending more per pupil when it is that way to a large degree because of bloated administrator pay is nothing D15 should strive for. Here are the figures I pulled from data on the aforementioned website. Average administrator salary for top 25 employees (by salary): D15: $126K D21: $132K D25: $126K D54: $170K D59: 134K So, D15 is in line with the rest when you remove Schaumburg D54 from the mix. In statistics, one would call Schaumburg an "outlier". The taxpayers in Schaumburg may be oblivious to the spending in D54, but we should not be comparing ourselves to them. We definitely do NOT want to be more like D54.
Bucephalus December 29, 2011 at 03:29 AM
1: Why are you only including the top 25 employees? There are a lot more than 25 employees in District 15, as well as in all the other districts. Those other employees bring down that average administrator wage. I can't imagine why you would want to exclude those other employees. Oh wait, it makes the wages seem unconscionably higher. 2: When you look at ALL administrators for the District, do you have any numbers that dispute what District 15 has shown? 3: Did you not read the article? District 15 spends nearly $3,000 LESS than nearby districts on a per-pupil expenditure. The "bloated" salaries of 25 employees of District 54 would not affect a $2,850 per student expenditure difference between District 15 and the sum of Districts 21, 25, 54, and 59.
Mark December 29, 2011 at 07:27 AM
Buccephalus, There was nothing sinister in my choosing to focus on comparing the top 25 earners, other than to remove the effects of low-level "administrative" roles that affect the averages. To be fair to your point the averages looking at all administrative employees is as follows: D15: $105K D21: $125K D25: $126K D54: $135K D59: $126K So, to your point, D15 has more low-level administrative roles that make the total average lower. But to my point, it's the top earners that comprise the bulk of the dollars and we should focus on them. Now for a couple of specifics related to Schaumburg D54. These are for year 2010, the most recent year on http://www.openthebooks.com: Superintendent Edward Rafferty: $282,121 annually Assistant Super Mohsin Dada: $341,747 annually Compare that to D15: Superintendent Daniel Lukich (now gone): $230,220 annually Assistant Super James Garwood: $151,480 Compare to D21: Superintendent Gary Mical: $288,564 Assistant Super Daniel Schuler: $191,741 Compare to D25: Superintendent Sarah Jerome: $251,460 Assistant Super Renee Zoladz: $161,298 Compare to D59: Superintendent Daniel Schweers: $251,461 Assistant Super Ruth Gloede: $171,390 To my point again, we do NOT want to be like D54, way out of line with the rest.
Mark December 29, 2011 at 07:32 AM
Regarding the spending per pupil, the figures probably came from the Illinois Interactive Report Card (http://iirc.niu.edu/Default.aspx) and obviously the spending per pupil is based on the TOTAL BUDGET (which includes debt service and capital projects) and NOT JUST THE EDUCATION FUND. Capital projects and interest on bonds vary significantly across districts and have no bearing on the education of my children. If you understood my position I am actually saying that D15 is NOT out of line with its neighbors, once you exclude Schaumburg. Based upon your reaction you seem to suggest we need to spend more for our administrators based on the numbers the D15 administrators presented.
Mark December 29, 2011 at 02:05 PM
One last update, for the benefit of all the readers. the Illinois Interactive Report Card (http://iirc.niu.edu/Default.aspx) is a fantastic place to go for summarized information and one can run a report comparing districts on a variety of factors. This is probably the source for this article. On the topic of expenditures per pupil, I have listed the "Instructional" as well as the "Operational", the later used in the article but the former a better measure in my view. District | Instructional per Pupil | Operational per Pupil D54 | $7881 | $12530 D25 | $6847 | $11888 D59 | $8038 | $14039 D21 | $8788 | $14650 D15 | $6980 | $11584 I encourage everyone to visit http://iirc.niu.edu/Default.aspx and explore. It's a great site.


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