Budget hearing date scheduled
Exec discusses his approach in compiling spending plan
CHAMPAIGN — When the Unit 4 school board discusses his 2014-15 budget next month, it will be the culmination of a 12-month process for Executive Director of Business Services Matt Foster.
"As soon as one budget is completed, I start the process for the next year's budget," said Foster, who is organizing Unit 4's budget.
The school board voted Monday night to hold a public hearing on the budget at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Mellon Administrative Center.
Foster said he looks at a number of factors when putting together a school budget.
"The first thing I do is try to predict enrollment and make sure we have enough rooms and teachers available to provide education to our students," Foster said. "We have a bubble of students in the elementary level. We are quite full at the middle school level, and we are over 100 percent capacity at the high school level.
"Then I look at making sure we have enough buses to take care of transporting the kids. We have had record enrollments for quite a few years now, so that is something I try to stay on top of."
With the district anticipating needing additional buses, Foster said he projects the amount of money needed to fuel those buses.
Next, Foster studies the food costs over the last several years and tries to predict how much money will be needed to provide meals for the students.
One major expense that Foster considers are salaries for teachers and staff. He said labor contracts call for a 3.95 percent hike for the Champaign Federation of Teachers and a 4.05 percent increase for the Champaign Educational Support Professionals.
Foster said the budget will include money for an expanded computer science program at the high schools.
"We had to buy some computers for the students," he said.
With the district supporting older schools at Dr. Howard School, Edison Middle School and Central High School, Foster said the budget needs to include the costs to operate and maintain those buildings and others.
"We also have to look at energy costs," he said. "Our newer schools are more energy-efficient than our older schools because they have newer windows and newer HVAC systems."
He said the budget will also include money to pay for the ongoing construction work at Kenwood Elementary School.
One thing not included in the budget will be proposed improvements at Centennial and the proposed construction of a new Central High School.
"The referendum has nothing to do with this budget," he said. "It will only impact the budget if and when we start to issue bonds."