With no state budget, Springfield has suggested that District 204 may not receive their last two categorical payments as well as the remainder of their general state aid, a total of $16.7 million. This makes budgeting for next year nearly impossible.
“If the state doesn’t pass a state budget, they don’t have money. So, we don’t have money until they pass a state budget,” said Board Member, Michael Raczak.
Another concern is decreased student enrollment and increased property value. That means an increase in local wealth per student, which in the eyes of the state, equals less general state aid.
The current funding formula leaves 204 stuck, since a low consumer price index only lets them increase taxes by 0.7 percent, regardless of an increase in property value.
It’s a scenario the district thinks demands attention.
“As far as I’m concerned, as the schools go, so goes the area that people live in, and the more schools are impacted, the more people are impacted, their home values and everything else,” said Board Member, Mark Rising.
District 204 could lose roughly $13 million in state aid over the next five years, but new developments and new students could reduce the losses.
“As we see all of this new construction, I’m eager to see how many kids this brings because that could reverse that trend. There’s a three year average of the general state aid, so it doesn’t turn around immediately, it takes some time,” said Jay Strang, Chief School Business Official.
With state and federal funding uncertain, it’s possible the district would employ a $24 million tax anticipation warrant for fiscal year 17 to cover lost funds.
“We’re not a real rich district, but we’re not one of the really poor districts. We’re right on the fence between going from a foundation district, to an alternative level district. Depending upon what they do, we could fall on one side of the fence or the other and we would just have to be ready to respond to that,” added Strang.
With financing so unclear, administrators are looking to potentially reallocate funds.
Some propositions include curriculum and assessment, transportation and operations and maintenance seeing a decrease carried forward for the next three years. While technology, special education and food service would see an increase in funding moving forward.
All that’s left is for the district to wait and see what Springfield decides and adjust accordingly.
One thing the district made clear is that there is no plan to reduce staff throughout the budget adjustments.
Naperville News 17’s Rachel Pierson reports.
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