After projecting a $3.2 million deficit earlier this year, the New Lenox elementary school district will see a surplus that will help cover expenditures over the next year.
The District 122 board of education approved its tentative 2011-12 budget Wednesday night, projecting a $2 million deficit. But that will be covered by this year’s unexpected $1.7 million surplus as well as bonds sold in 2004-2006 and fund balances.
The board will vote to finalize the budget at its Sept. 21 meeting. That same night, at the start of the meeting, the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the budget. Residents will have the opportunity to inspect the budget at the , and more information is available in a PDF to the right of this article.
Where did this surplus come from? Business manager Harold Huang said there were a number of factors that contributed to the surprise surplus. “We had a heck of a year,” he said. “A year ago we had no idea what was going to happen. But we made the difficult decisions.” The contributors included:
- Property tax collection rates were unprecedentedly high, with a 1 percent increase that brought in an additional $339,000 in property tax revenue.
- The district was unsure if it would receive mandated payments from the state, given its budget situation, but got $790,000 more than expected. That’s a result of higher pro-rated reimbursements for special education and transportation, as well as a fifth regular payment for those two categories when only four were budgeted.
- A change in student fee collection policy led to a dramatic increase in revenue. The district said would find parents who didn’t pay fees and take it to collection agencies, which got more parents to pay up and got the district $200,000 more in fees than budgeted.
- Other payments the district budgeted for came in well under projections, including tuition to the Special Education Cooperative ($246,000 less), special education busing ($61,000) and regular education busing ($147,000).
So what changes for next year? The district’s operational fund includes money for the education, operating/maintenance, transportation, tort, retirement and working cash funds. Combined, those funds will have a $992,112 deficit that will be covered by the 2010-11 surplus. The “All Funds” budget includes that operational fund plus bond/interest, capital projects and life safety funds, which altogether make the $2 million deficit. The additional deficit will be covered by bond sales and fund balances. Some notable expenditures and revenues include:
- $941,000 for capital projects, including the Tyler/Bentley asphault project, Spencer campus parking lot repairs, Oakview drainage improvement and Nelson campus guardrail installation, covered by bond sales.
- $440,000 for capital projects covered by the life safety fund, including upgrades to Bentley windows and piping.
- $600,000 for a new language arts program from the education fund.
- Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed money in the state budget that would have increased the amount of money the state Board of Education reimburses for transportation. Huang said Rep. Renee Kosel (R-New Lenox) is confident the legislators will override the veto and restore funding.
By the Numbers: Following the district’s projected $3.2 million deficit, the school board made up for about $2.5 million through cuts and new revenue, and the district projected a $392,000 deficit. Last month, the school board approved the purchase of the new language arts program, which brought the operating fund’s deficit to $992,000 for the next year. But that, once again, will be covered by the $1.7 million surplus.