Local News

H-F school board approves $50.3 million balanced budget

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School board of education has approved a balanced budget for this school year.

At its Sept. 20 board meeting, the District 233 board passed a $50, 365,687 operating budget for the current school year.

The funding covers the expenses in the education, transportation, working cash and operations and maintenance budgets. Of that $50.36 million, the district is expected to cover costs totaling $49,898,905 leaving a balance of $466,782.

The funding includes an estimated $37.29 million in local tax revenues; $12.06 million in state funding;  and $1 million in federal revenues. The budget extends from Sept. 1, 2016 through Aug. 31, 2017.

Ken Parchem, the District 233 business manager, said the district has other funds on the books, but the money in those funds, such as pension payments, is restricted. The district is carrying $52.32 million in a reserve fund.

Parchem said this year District 233 will get full general state aid reimbursement through a one-time Parity Grant. The state aid formula calls for $6,119 in state monies for each student, however the last four years the state reduced the payment by prorating the amount. For example, in 2015-16, districts received 92 percent. Shorting districts caused numerous financial issues for schools.

“Since state aid was prorated from 2012 through 2016, our district has been underfunded by approximately $4.8 million,” Parchem explained. Over those four years, “the district has held expenditure growth to 1.6 percent,” he added.

Parchem said the district “has made over $1 million in budget reductions since 2010 without reducing programming and opportunities for students.”

The district is expected to again see limits in state funding for special education and transportation. The state will provide only three reimbursement payments rather than four, Parchem noted.

“They simply won’t pay us, nor will they go back and catch up those payments,” he said.

By Illinois law, the district limits any property tax increases to 5 percent or the measure of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – which ever is less. This year the growth at the rate of CPI is 0.8 percent. Parchem said over the last three years, the CPI average has been just 1.3 percent.

The District 233 budget is reflecting a 2.9 percent salary increase and a 2.67 percent increase in benefit costs.

The district included three projects in this budget: replacing the stadium turf and repainting the track in summer 2017, and replacing three district owned vehicles.

The district received a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poors in 2014. Parchem said the district is working to maintain the rating for its next review in 2017. 

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