Local News

Good news from state follows District 161 budget presentation

While still in session Monday evening, and shortly after hearing details of the district’s proposed budget, the Flossmoor District 161 Board of Education began receiving a play-by-play update of school funding negotiations in Springfield.

They liked what they heard.

Frances LaBella, assistant superintendent of business operations, had just finished giving a detailed description of the proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year. In her remarks at the Aug. 28 committee of the whole meeting, she stated the district can “weather the storm” if the Illinois General Assembly failed to approve a school funding bill.

Moments later LaBella checked her phone and brought the board and audience breaking news from Springfield.  The news on Monday evening was encouraging as LaBella reported the Illinois House of Representatives had reversed an earlier vote on Monday and approved a compromise school spending bill.

The Illinois Senate approved the measure on Tuesday and Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the legislation on Thursday, Aug. 31. Lawmakers and Rauner have been at odds for months over school funding.

Knowing that state funding will be forthcoming, LaBella said Monday that the district’s budget should proceed as planned.

The budget public hearing and board adoption is scheduled for Sept. 25.

The proposed budget projects a deficit of $2.44 million with revenues at $32.75 million and expenditures of $35.19 million. Describing the budget as a “road map”, LaBella pointed out that last year many expected expenditures finished under budget and that is a possibility for 2018.

For example, spending in 2017 was under budget by $1.84 million. This included $297,000 in the substitute teacher budget and $218,000 in benefits expenditures as medical insurance premiums held steady. Various purchased services such as bus transportation, snow removal and building maintenance combined to be $800,000 under budget.

The expected $32.75 million in income is about $458,000 less than what was received in FY2017.  The largest revenue source is $24.86 million from local property taxes, which last year generated $24.66 million. This year the state will be forwarding an anticipated $6.36 million to Flossmoor schools, around $800,000 less than in 2017.

The 2018 budget would result in an ending fund balance of $29.08 million. It’s estimated the ending fund balance for 2017 will be $31.52 million.

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