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District 202 Budget in Decent Shape: Officials

If the state comes through with its share of funding, Plainfield schools could end the school year in the black for the second year in a row.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo

With about three-quarters of the 2013-14 fiscal year in the books, District 202’s daily operating budget appears to be on solid ground – if the state comes through with its share of funding.

As always, district officials caution, that is a big “if."

At the end of March, the operating budget showed a projected surplus of about $1.2 million, slightly more than anticipated last fall when the budget was approved. The Operating Budget comprises the five funds that pay for daily operating costs: education, operations and maintenance, transportation, IMRF/Social Security and tort immunity.

If the fiscal year ends as expected, this would be the second straight year that District 202 finishes in the black, going back to at least 2008 when the recession started. 

The 2013-14 budget as approved last September anticipated a $960,000 operating surplus. That was the first time in years that the district started a fiscal year expecting to end with a surplus, rather than a deficit. 

Angie Smith, assistant superintendent for business and operations attributed the good news primarily to higher revenues and four years of fiscal austerity to counter the ongoing effects of a weakened economy and10 years of unprecedented growth.

District 202 cut about $42 million in operating expenses between 2009 and 2012, mostly by eliminating about 345 full-time teaching, support staff and administrative positions. 

Still, Smith said, a lot will depend on the state making its final general state aid payment on time.

“We have continued to work hard to cut corners where we can, save on utilities and stretch our resources,” Smith said. “But as usual we have to be very cautious until we actually see that money from the state,” she said. 

Board of Education President Roger Bonuchi also praised both employee associations and district administrators for making many tough decisions – in particular Smith, her predecessor John Prince and Superintendent Dr. John Harper.

“It has been a long road, and there is a lot of work to be done before we can really be financially comfortable, but we’ve come a very long way through a lot of hard work and shared sacrifice,” Bonuchi said.

Grandpamike May 06, 2014 at 12:43 PM
@Tim Please explain to me what the school board had to do with the "Edward Situation" you speak of.
Tim May 06, 2014 at 01:11 PM
Sure thing Grandpamike - The Edward tax abatement was known about years before it was forced to be paid by the atty gen. The school board knew this was a pending matter, and was certainly going to result in a refund of taxes paid to D202. But, nothing was done, no planning was done, no money was set aside, until the last possible minute. Only then did they complain about how they were 'unable to pay such a large sum all at once'. Frankly, it is shameful and each and every one of them should seriously reevaluate their purpose on the school board after such an obviously irresponsible decision over a long period of time.... If you knew your car was going to need major repair in a few months, but only had $100 in your account, do you think anyone would listen to your complaints if you went out shopping and spent $105? That is called a lack of fiscal management, and the board clearly showed this behavior over the course of the years this was in the process of developing. What SHOULD have happened, and what was recommended and ignored, was to set the funds aside in expectation of the final ruling which was all but certain except for the date it would be required to be paid. However, in true Plainfield fashion, there was no leadership on this, and it turned into a larger problem because of it being ignored until the outside world left them no choice... I understand that many people only have Plainfield as a reference point, and I think that is what allows this irresponsible behavior of our public boards to continue unchecked. Go talk to someone who works in D59, about how they didn't see a single layoff due to these types of poor budgetary processes.
Kristine Neumann May 06, 2014 at 06:47 PM
I have a question regarding property taxes & the schools: What are they doing with all the money the schools get from the people living in Carillon? No one under the age of 18 is allowed to live there so that means no expense to the schools. Carillon is a huge subdivision with loads of homes paying into the schools. What are they doing with that money I ask?

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