The District 65 School Board has released a tentative budget showing it plans to increase spending by five percent this year, to a total of $95 million.

The district anticipates a six percent increase in revenue, to $95.5 million.

The board has scheduled a public hearing on the budget for Sept. 18, with budget adoption scheduled Sept. 25, five days before the state-imposed deadline.

School officials say this will be the fifth year in a row the board has achieved a balanced budget.

The board also boasts a “Financial Review” rating from the Illinois State Board of Education. This is the second highest rating possible on the rating scale. District Finance Director Mary Brown said that to receive the highest rating, the budget operating funds would need to increase by $2 million while expenses stayed fairly level.

The board remained optimistic about the financial status of the district despite uncertainties such as the amount to be received from Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Medicaid funding, the level interest rates and energy prices.

“The budget tells the story of where the district is going,” board member Sharon Sheehan said at Monday’s board meeting. “There are a lot of positive things in here and it wouldn’t hurt to share them.”

The most recent budget assumes the stability of staffing and enrollment as well as the inclusion of the new African-centered curriculum, pre-school grant and the expansion of the bilingual program.

Teacher salaries and employee benefits account for 79 percent of the operating fund expenditures.

Superintendent Hardy Murphy said the budget has only two weaknesses: the calculation of future levels for salaries and the amount of local revenue that may be received.

“We have to think in more than one year increments,” Murphy said.

Related link
Tentative District 65 Budget (15MB PDF file)

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