Danville school board to review deficit budget proposal
DANVILLE — The Danville school district has a healthy fund balance to cover a $2.43 million projected deficit in a proposed budget for the current fiscal year, officials said.
But, they added, the district must continue to take a very conservative spending approach — from contract negotiations to restoring positions and programs that were cut earlier this year — due to significant losses in revenue and yet another year of uncertainty in both state and local funding.
"Unfortunately, the uncertainty is being caused by factors that are out of our control," Superintendent Mark Denman said, referring to Illinois' financial situation and the declining equalized assessed valuation of property in the district.
"Hopefully, we'll spend less money and get more revenue," Denman continued. "Right now, this is our best guess. That's why we want to monitor our expenses very closely and take a conservative approach ... to ensure we're providing the services we need to."
District officials unveiled the proposed spending plan for the 2012-13 fiscal year Friday.
On Wednesday, Danville school board members will vote on whether to put the proposal on display. A vote on adopting the proposal will happen at a later date.
Under the proposal, the district would spend a little more than $66.1 million but bring in only about $63.67 million in revenue. The proposal doesn't include the district's debt from bonds, which it issued to help pay for the renovations at South View and North Ridge middle schools and East Park Elementary School.
The education fund — which pays for most salaries and day-to-day expenses — would spend about $50.17 million but generate $49.87 million in revenue, leaving a $304,257 shortfall.
"This was not an easy budget to do," said Business and Finance Director Heather McKiernan. While revenue keeps dwindling, she added, expenses — the largest being personnel — keep rising.
Of the revenue, about $31.57 million, roughly 50 percent, would come from general state aid and grants; about $22.57 million, roughly 35 percent, would come from property taxes; and about $9.5 million would come from federal sources.
Denman said the deficit can be attributed to a loss in funding, including a $917,000 decrease in property taxes, a $600,000 loss in state categorical funding and the ending of the federal jobs bill, which provided the district with $2.5 million over the last two years.
To prepare for that loss, the district cut more than a dozen teaching and other positions through attrition, reducing personnel expenses by $535,000, along with eliminating $100,000 in textbooks, supplies and other expenses earlier this year.
As a result, the middle school Spanish program, which didn't have a lot of students, was eliminated, as were the Victory English and math programs that provided help to Danville High School students who were behind in those subjects.
The district also eliminated its teacher-mentor position, which provided support to new teachers.
While the food-service, operations and maintenance, transportation and tort funds all project deficits, too, McKiernan said the district will use reserves to cover them. That would bring the district's fund balance from $20.27 million to about $17.84 million.
"It's not unexpected," Denman said. "It's still very sobering to see all of that red on the spreadsheet."
Also at the meeting, administrators will present the 2012 state testing scores. They showed that although the district and 10 of its schools failed to make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law last year, students overall showed a 2.1 percent improvement in reading and a 1.9 percent improvement in math. Northeast Elementary Magnet School did make AYP.
The Danville school board will meet at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St. A copy of the agenda is available online at http://bit.ly/QXD0zR.