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D65 chief projects balanced budgets through 2025

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Thanks to the voters that approved an operating referendum with an 80 percent favorable vote last Tuesday, the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 projects balanced budgets for the district through the year 2025, Superintendent Paul Goren told the board’s Finance Committee Monday night.

Meanwhile, the administration is encouraging the board to allocate any excess funds to building up the district’s fund balance to achieve a level that equals 25 percent of the annual expenditures in its operating funds.

Currently, the fund balance is less than 20 percent.  An amount less than 25 percent is considered a detriment to the district’s credit rating that could show up in higher interest rates when borrowing funds for capital improvements.

Because of the referendum, Goren explained, the district is expected to receive an additional $14.5 million in property tax revenue each year for the next eight years, or a total of $116 million.

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Without that additional revenue, the district was projecting a deficit next year of $5.1 million that would increase each year until reaching more than $24 million in FY 2025, for a cumulative deficit of $112.3 million.

The resolution he is asking the board to approve would declare the board’s commitment to use all of the additional revenue in two ways:  to eliminate projected deficits and to build up the district’s fund balances.

Although the present board cannot legally bind the actions of future boards, the resolution would restrict future actions without a formal vote to do otherwise.

Already the board will have two new members as a result of last Tuesday’s election, and the expectation is that by 2025, virtually the entire board will be reconstituted. Hence, the resolution, so that future boards will be fully advised of the promises made to the electorate by the present board.

The resolution he proposed was taken under advisement with the expectation that it will be on the agenda of the next board meeting, scheduled for April 24, for a formal vote.

Goren regularly warns the  board that projections are merely educated guesses that could be altered significantly as a result of actions taken by the state legislature in dealing with such issues as teacher pensions and property tax freezes.

Charles Bartling

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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