D.205 to have balanced budget for new school year

2013-08-17T22:30:00Z 2013-08-17T22:35:31Z D.205 to have balanced budget for new school yearGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
August 17, 2013 10:30 pm  • 

SOUTH HOLLAND | The Thornton Township High School District 205 School Board is likely to have a balanced budget for the upcoming school year. But several factors could take money away from the district’s three high schools.

Rob Grossi, the Bloom Township treasurer who provides financial advice to several south suburban elementary and high school districts, presented School Board members Wednesday with an overview of the proposed budget they will be asked to approve Sept. 11.

That budget projects district income of $106.47 million and expenses of $106.41 million for the fiscal year that runs through June 2014.

But expenses could increase by $1.7 million for District 205 if the Illinois General Assembly approves a long-discussed proposal to have school districts cover the cost of teacher and staff pensions rather than the state pay that expense.

Grossi said a proposed shift in transportation reimbursements from the state could cost District 205 about $1.1 million.

But the big hit would be if plans to develop an Urban Prep Charter School within the District 205 boundaries proceed. Grossi said that every student leaving the district’s high schools — Thornton in Harvey, Thornridge in Dolton and Thornwood in South Holland — to attend a charter school would cost the district $16,000, or potentially up to a $4 million loss per school year for the district.

District officials plan to study the charter school issue further at a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Thornridge, 15000 Cottage Grove Ave., in Dolton.

Of the expenses to operate the district’s high schools, 45 percent will cover salaries, while 11 percent covers benefits to district faculty and employees.

Income for District 205 has declined significantly in recent years. Last year, the district had $109.5 million in total revenue. Three years ago, that figure was $118.81 million.

But Grossi said the district still can have balanced budgets because officials have cut their spending as well. The 2010-11 academic year saw $113.82 million in expenditures. However, he noted, the anticipated expenses for this year are up slightly from the $104.85 million budgeted last year.

Grossi said income is declining largely because the district gets 30 percent of its funding from general state aid and other restricted state grants.

The decline in enrollment in recent years for the three high schools means the district is eligible for less money. Also, the state is not providing any districts with the full amount for which they qualify, which also decreases the amount of money the state gives to the district, Grossi said.

In other matters, the School Board is considering deleting its policy on hiring and nepotism. A final vote will come at the September board meeting, although the issue has been reviewed by the policy committee chaired by board member Toni Williams, the wife of School Board President Kenneth Williams.

South Holland resident Ken Rudolph used a public comment portion of the board’s meeting to tell them he thought the proposed change was a mistake.

“This school district does not need more division,” he said.

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