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District 161 School Board Approves Surplus Budget for 2011-12

Cash balances continue to be healthy, according to the 161 Board.

The  Board of Education unanimously approved a 2011-12 budget Monday night that projects a surplus of almost $317,000.

The budget projects an estimated $29.9 million in revenue and $29.6 million in expenditures, with an operating fund balance of $31.2 million at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2012.

The major district expenditures for fiscal year 2011-12 will be salaries and benefits, parking lot and pavement improvement projects at , technology updates and other district maintenance and operation services.

“A lot of districts are in financial trouble, but because of the way we have handled things, we are in good shape,” Board President Dr. David Dreyfuss said.

District 161’s new Interim Director of Business Services Ed O’Malley has more than 30 years experience as a school business manager. He says the district’s current positive financial outlook is the result of hard work.

Superintendent Craig Doster, echoed O’Malley’s thoughts.

“The board has done a phenomenal job as far as planning for the future—the surplus is plentiful,” Doster said.

According to board member John Simmons, in the five years he’s been on the board, the district’s expenditures have consistently come in under budget. Simmons said the district only counts revenue it knows it will receive for certain and it projects expenditures a little higher than anticipated.

“When we don’t spend as much as we planned, fund balances go up,” Simmons said.

However, with state and federal budget cuts, some of the individual fund balances will dip slightly this year.

For example the Education Fund budget has revenues of about $22.3 million and expenditures of about $22.9 million, resulting in deficit of about $559,000, according to Doster. He said the elimination or cutting back of former grants such as the Reading Improvement Block Grant, the Average Daily Attendance Block Grant and the Early Childhood Block Grant are responsible. Despite the deficit spending this year, the Education Fund will still end the fiscal year with an estimated balance of about $18.3 million.

With the reserves, the district is able to continue paying off its debt and complete some projects, Doster said. For example, he plans on presenting a three-to-five-year technology plan to the board in the near future and because of the funds available, the district could expedite implementation in the first year.  

While the district may be dipping into its cash balances for some things, Doster and Dreyfuss ensured the district will continue to monitor local, state and federal revenue, be prudent in its spending and seek additional grants and revenue sources.

“We will be mindful of the money we have. Our balances are healthy and we will work to maintain them and make fiscally responsible decisions,” Doster said.

The next regular District 161 Board of Education business meeting will take place on Oct. 11 at 7:30 at .

Karen V. Maurer September 14, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Attendance is probably not a major concern in District 161, but reading improvement and early childhood surely are -- so how are these needs being addressed if there are cutbacks in those areas?
Lilly Melin September 14, 2011 at 02:41 PM
As a parent of a pre-schooler, I'd be curious to hear from parents with children who attend public (Western Ave) and private (IJP) local schools to get their opinions on early education and how they both stack up.
Juvenal September 14, 2011 at 06:43 PM
God forbid they lower the taxes; they do not have a "surplus -- they overtaxed their taxpayers in an area with some of the highest tax rates in the country....

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