D.215 board expected to approve balanced budget in September

2013-09-03T00:00:00Z D.215 board expected to approve balanced budget in SeptemberGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
September 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

CALUMET CITY | Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215 officials expect to have a balanced budget.

A budget proposal for the 2013-14 school year presented to the School Board is now on public review at the district’s administrative offices. A final vote by the School Board is expected Sept. 24.

The proposed budget anticipates revenues totaling $55.08 million for the school district that oversees T.F. North High School and a vocational center in Calumet City, along with T.F. South High School in Lansing.

Expenses for the school year are estimated to total just under $60 million.

The district’s finance director, Charles DiMartino, said the budget is balanced because the school district finished the 2012-13 academic year with a $5 million surplus, which will cover the difference in costs.

School district officials, in a prepared statement, boasted this year is the sixth consecutive school year in which the district has a balanced budget, and the third straight year the district will not seek any kind of increase in its share of property tax revenues from local homeowners.

Superintendent Creg Williams said the district has, “managed to stay true to our commitment to providing a dynamic learning environment that provides students with 21st century skills despite the abysmal economic climate that makes it increasingly difficult to do so.”

Williams also pointed out the fact that state aid payments to public school districts have been on the decline in recent years, requiring the Thornton Fractional high schools to find alternate sources of funding.

For this school year, State Board of Education officials have told public school districts they will receive 89 percent of the amount of money they are eligible for under state aid formulas. They also have been told that there will be 11 percent less funds available for programs that provide grants to public education programs.

Despite those facts, DiMartino said that state government thus far has been on time in making its first two aid payments to District 215 for the current school year totaling a little more than $1.3 million. In past school years, it has not been unheard of for the state to be late in making such payments.

Yet DiMartino said Illinois is on time, in addition to paying District 215 all the money it was supposed to receive during the 2012-13 school year.

In another financial matter, DiMartino told School Board members the insurance policy they already had to cover their student-athletes in the event of injury has the district in compliance with a new state law requiring schools to have such insurance at levels of up to $3 million for five years.

DiMartino said the district’s policy actually provides for $5 million for 10 years, which he said breaks down to a cost of $3.07 for each of the roughly 1,000 students who participate in sports programs at either T.F. North or T.F. South high schools.

But DiMartino said it might be possible in future years to get an insurance policy that would provide adequate coverage for less money.

“There wasn’t much time to search around for alternatives, but we are in compliance with the law,” he said.

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