District 15 Budget Woes Focus of Dec. 5 Forums

On December 5, District 15 will host a pair of budget information forums to outline the financial concerns that have it considering up to $10 million in budget cuts next year.

The Community Consolidated School District 15 Board of Education has directed Superintendent Scott Thompson and his administrative staff to compile a list of potential budget cuts totaling $10 million. That list is intended to guide the District as it works to determine how much to reduce its expenditures for the 2012-13 school year.

Recently updated financial forecasts show growing annual budget shortfalls draining the District's reserve funds over the next five years. The District 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 of about $55 million, which represents roughly 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.

Over the past several months, the District has been exploring ways to correct its structural deficit and maintain a strong financial position by bringing its spending more in line with its revenues. Board members, District administrators, and school principals have met to review the District's financial concerns and discuss potential solutions. During its October 16 meeting, the Board determined that compiling a "worst case scenario" list of potential budget reductions would help it, and the rest of the District 15 community, develop a consensus around the tough decisions that will have to be made.

The first step in developing that consensus will be reviewing the District's financial concerns with staff and community members during a pair of budget information forums to be held Monday, December 5, at Walter R. Sundling Junior High, 1100 N. Smith Street in Palatine. A forum for staff will be held from 4-5:30 p.m., and a forum for community members will follow from 7-8:30 p.m.

These forums will explain the District's current economic situation, and show how the District's finances compare to other school districts around the state. The forums will outline how the District's budget is developed by explaining where it gets its funding, how it spends that money, and why it maintains cash reserves.

Additional forums will be held in January to provide staff and community members with opportunities to offer their feedback and help prioritize the District's list of potential budget reductions.

-Information Submitted by Community Consolidated School District 15

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