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U46 talks about budget, alignment to five-year strategic plan

The School District U46 Board of Education held a presentation to provide an overview of the tentative budget, set for consideration and potential implementation during the 2016-17 academic year.

It is part of a district-wide effort to approve the annual budget, which will be considered at the board’s Sept. 26 meeting.

Dale Burnidge, director of financial operations, said the district’s financial outlook shows the community they can rest assured they’re in good hands.

“For fiscal 2017, our property tax revenue is projected to be flat and that’s due to the abatement from the tax year 2015 levy,” he said. “The 2016 tax levy amount will be determined in December, so in this budget I’ve not projected any increase.”

Burnidge said it’s important to note that the consumer price index, or the rate of inflation, remains low for the fifth straight calendar year.

In 2015, the district reported a CPI, valued 0.7 percent, down from 0.8 percent in 2014, 1.5 percent in 2013, 1.7 percent in 2012 and 3.0 percent in 2011.

“There’s been very little growth in the last five years—about $11 million and that’s due to the lower CPI numbers,” he said. “The FY 17 increase from the 299.5 to the 300.8, that is due to the new construction that’s coming on the tax rolls, not due to any increase in the tax levy.”

Burnidge said the district is expecting 100-percent general state funding this year. Under senate bill 2047, the district will see an increase in general state aid allocation and full funding of the formula, he said.

In 2015, general state aid was prorated at 92-percent costing the district $9.8 million.

“We have about a $6.5 million increase in general state aid,” Burnidge said. “We have about $9.7 million increase in the categoricals and that’s due to budgeting the four payments versus only three last year.”

Burnidge noted that federal dollars for the district have been fairly flat over the last five years, and said funding for the current fiscal year looks promising.

“Our funding levels are about $1.4 million higher than fiscal 2016 and that mostly due to an increase in the Title I funds,” he said.

Part of the district’s expenditure outlook includes contractual salary increases for teachers and staff, as well additional positions for full-day kindergarten, social workers and administrative support for larger elementary schools. In addition to those costs, the district spent an allotted $15.9 million toward building capital projects, $2.3 million for new buses and $5.6 million for computer equipment.

“We have a total revenue increase of $18.1 million,” Burnidge said. “Our total expenditures are increasing about $3.8 million. $7.8 million of that increase is from salaries and benefits. We have about a $4 million decrease in the capital outlay that decrease is due to buying fewer buses this year compared to last year.”

School District U46 CEO Tony Sanders said it’s important to note the way in which the school’s budget aligns to the five-year strategic plan. The effort is hoped to implement and support a challenging standards-based curriculum across all content areas, he said.

Among subject areas to be backed with support in the coming year include seventh-grade Spanish language arts, several social studies curriculum for high schools and kindergarten science.

Sanders said school officials also continue to work toward coordinating efforts to provide a safe and nurturing environment. District-wide initiatives that support this aim include the introduction of full-time social workers at every elementary school and the addition of assistant principals, he said.

The board will hold a public hearing on budget at the Sept. 12 meeting.