Dear Parents and Community Members:
I am writing to put in context some of the budget decisions that the Board of Education will have to be making over the next couple of months. As you may have heard, the funding situation for schools and most other governmental entities in Illinois is dire and state funding for North Boone has decreased more than $1 million in General State Aid (GSA) over the past three years. The state has also reduced the reimbursements for transportation, special education and other mandated state and federal programs over the last several years. This leaves school districts in a difficult position. We are effectively required by law to plan our staffing and programs by early April, but we have no final confirmation what level of funding that we will receive from the state, which makes up about 40% of our budget. If state or other funding sources increase, the Board can bring back programs over the summer.
Without any additional reductions in spending and if we see the 9% reduction in GSA, which is a fairly conservative estimate based on recent conversations with state lawmakers, the Board would need to reduce costs or increase revenues by about $1.125 million to balance the budget. If the state provided the district with all of the GSA due to North Boone under the state’s own rules, we would not need to make any cuts for next year. Adding to the complications of this budget year are the potential changes in state pension rules which would require districts to pay what has traditionally been the state’s portion of teacher pension funding. This could cost the district more than $600,000 if the district has to cover that entire cost beginning next year. The changes in insurance due to the Affordable Care Act, often called Obama Care, may also cost the district more to provide insurance beginning next year. A list of reductions made over the past three years is posted here on the district website.
The number one priority of the Board and the district’s administrative team remains providing all of the children in the district with a safe and effective educational experience. We have looked into a number of ways to try to reduce the district’s expenses and eliminate programs which don’t have a direct positive impact on student learning. Over the last three years, the Board made approximately $2.5 million in cuts. A complete list of previous cuts can be found on the district’s website. This year’s budget projects an approximate $500,000 deficit. According to the financial projections provided to the district in January by PMA, a financial investment and consulting firm, North Boone will spend approximately $1.125 million more next year than we will take in if we don’t make any cuts and our pension and insurance costs remain the same. The district is currently projected to run out of reserves between 2018 and 2019. The Board asked the administration in January to return with recommendations for further cuts that would push that date out between 2020 and 2021.
The administrative team will provide the Board several options for reducing expenditures at the
Thursday, February 21, 2013 Board meeting. Most likely, the Board will act on many of those recommendations at the Thursday, March 21, 2013 and Thursday, April 25, 2013 Board meetings.
We will continue to reach out to other local governmental agencies and other school districts to try to work together where we can to be more efficient and save the tax payers money.
The district formed two staff and parent committees to make recommendations regarding our transportation and student activities and athletic programming. We continue to work off of those recommendations. A third committee was asked to review the current status of our athletic fields and stadium and make recommendations to the Board about how to go about keeping those spaces in good condition. They will report back to the Board in May.
It is important to add that a number of staff and community members have helped to raise money or donate time and materials to assist the district in coping with this difficult economic environment. On behalf of the Board, I would like to once again thank those volunteers and donors who have helped North Boone this year.
If you have constructive suggestions for how the district can reduce expenses or increase revenue, please let me know. You can leave your suggestions on the online budget survey available on the district’s website, www.nbcusd.org, or contact my office at 815-765-3322. If you don't have a computer and would like to complete the survey, paper copies will be available in each school and the district office.
Steven M. Baule, Ph.D.