Champaign schools' budget now shows surplus

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school board Monday heard a presentation on its budget for this school year at a special meeting Monday and voted unanimously to schedule a budget hearing for Sept. 24 .

The board will vote on the final 2012-13 budget at that meeting, said the school district's Director of Finance Barbara Ramsay.

When late Chief Operating Officer Gene Logas presented the preliminary budget for this school year in March, it predicted a deficit.

But Ramsay gave a second presentation of the preliminary budget Monday that projected a surplus of $1.76 million in the school district's operating funds.

The preliminary budget has changed since March in that it includes about $1 million in revenues from the school district's federal magnet school grant.

The school district also scaled back work planned on the shop at Central High School, and cost increases for health insurance should be less than expected in March.

The preliminary budget also included a better look at state funding, including that the state will only pay 89 percent of general state aid for schools this year.

Also Monday, the Champaign school board approved expanding its English as a Second Language program to Carrie Busey Elementary, Bottenfield Elementary and Centennial High School. It will hire one full-time teacher at each of the elementary schools and a half-time teacher at Centennial High School for the expanded program.

Maria Alanis, the school district's director of ESL and bilingual programs, told the board the need for ESL was growing at those schools. Part of the money to pay for those teachers will come from money set aside for a part-time Mandarin language teacher who was to be hired at Franklin Middle School, and for materials to start a Mandarin program there.

Alanis said several people applied for that position, but none had the correct certification. Rather than start the school year with a substitute, the program is on hold for a year.

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