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COVID-19 creates $5M hole in D...

COVID-19 creates $5M hole in D. 202 proposed FY ‘21 operating budget

Jun 23, 2020

District 202 officials expect the 2020-21 operating budget revenues to fall short of expenses by about $5.5 million because of the effects of COVID-19 on local property taxes, according to the proposed 2020-21 budget.

The Plainfield District 202 Board of Education received the First Draft 2020-21 budget at its June 22, 2020 regular meeting. 

Changes may follow later this summer as the state continues to sort out funding due to COVID-19. The district may dip into fund balances or possibly decrease staffing costs through normal attrition to reduce or eliminate the projected operating deficit, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lane Abrell said.

The First Draft of FY 2021 budget will allow District 202 to maintain high-quality educational programs while continuing to develop and implement a responsible, sustainable financial plan, said Rick Engstrom, assistant superintendent for business and operations.

Engstrom said the proposed fiscal plan also:

  • keeps property taxes as low as possible
  • maintains “Recognition” status (the highest possible ranking) on the State Board of Education’s Financial Profile.

District 202 earned “Watch” status in 2012 – the lowest state ranking – but reached the highest status, “Recognition” in 2016. It has enjoyed Recognition status ever since. District 202 scored a “3.9” out of a possible “4” in 2019, the most current year.

PROJECTED TOTAL BUDGET REVENUES AND EXPENSES

District 202’s total preliminary projected 2020-21 budget including debt service and capital projects is $365.5 million, up $39.6 million from $325.9 million last year, or 12.1 percent.  However, construction of the new Wallin Oaks Elementary School accounts for $23.1 million of the increase.

Total revenues are expected to be $334.3 million in 2020-21, up $6.6 million from $327.7 million last year, or 2 percent.

PROJECTED OPERATING BUDGET REVENUES AND EXPENSES

The operating budget pays for all daily operating expenses including salaries and benefits, which comprise about 79 percent of the Operating Budget this year.

The State of Illinois considers the Education, Operations and Maintenance, Transportation, Working Cash, IMRF and Tort funds together as the “Operating Budget” to assess and rate school districts’ financial health.

The preliminary proposed 2020-21 operating budget shows $293.3 million in anticipated operating revenues, up $6.2 million from $287.1 million last year, or about 2.2 percent.

The preliminary proposed 2020-21 operating budget shows $298.8 million in expected operating expenses, up $12.8 million from $286 million last year or about 4.5 percent.

KEY BUDGET POINTS

As usual, salaries and benefits comprise about 79 percent of the preliminary projected 2020-21 operating expenses. Salaries and benefits are expected to total about $235.8 million, which is up about 3.6 percent, or $8.3 million, over last year’s figure of $227.5 million.

The preliminary proposed figure includes:

  • 3 percent raises for administration and non-union support staff;
  • raises averaging 2.75 percent plus a 1.5 percent increase to their base pay for Association of Plainfield Teachers (APT) members;
  • raises averaging 4.75 percent for Plainfield Association of Support Staff (PASS) members per the new five-year contract approved in April 2019;
  • 4 percent increases in benefits because of rising health care premiums;
  • funding for 21 new certified staff positions;
  • level school funding, and full funding for departmental initiatives;
  • $23.1 million for the new Wallin Oaks Elementary School;
  • $3.7 million for additional technology initiatives and equipment.

The proposed tentative budget also includes a $1 million contingency for building-specific enrollment changes and special education needs, as has been done the last several years.

Finally, but importantly, District 202 continues to operate more efficiently than the state average in nearly every category, according to the 2019 Illinois state report card:

  • Instructional spending per student -- $6,455 versus the state average of $8,172
  • Operational spending per student -- $10,649 versus the state average of $13,764
  • Pupil to Elementary Teacher Ratio – 19 students to every teacher, compared to 18 for the state
  • Pupil to High School Teacher Ratio – 23 students to every teacher versus the state average of 19 students
  • Administrator to Student Ratio – 187 students to every administrator versus the state average of 173