The Finance Committee of the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board will meet tonight to recommend to the full board a budget for the new school year, but the amount of funds needed for salaries and benefits, which amount to 70 percent of the operating budget, is still up in the air.

The reason for the uncertainty is the fact that an agreement has not yet been reached with the teachers union on a new four-year contract to replace the existing contract that expires this month.

The board’s calendar calls for the full board to act on the Finance Committee’s recommendation at its meeting next Monday, at which time the budget goes on a legally required public display for 30 days, after which the board is slated to vote final approval at its meeting on September 24.

The law requires the budget process to be completed by September 30.

As for the labor talks, the administration and the teachers union are continuing to meet with a federal mediator in hopes of resolving contract issues by the end of the month.

The tentative budget projects a 1 percent decrease in salaries due to savings related to retirements and staffing efficiencies that would more than offset a projected increase in salaries. The budget would be updated if the labor contracts are negotiated and ratified before final adoption in September.

Overall, the operating budget includes a cushion of nearly $1 million between revenues of $102,350,028 and expenditures of $101,408,044. This compares with unaudited actual figures for the preceding year of $106,904,030 in revenues and $106,753,795 in expenditures.

Another complicating factor involves negotiations at the state level on the financing of pension obligations. One of the options advanced in Springfield would involve shifting pension costs to local districts that are presently assumed by the state. If this were to happen, it would amount to a $600,000 hit in fiscal year 13 and twice that in FY14.

The public portion of tonight’s Finance Committee meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at district headquarters, 1500 McDaniel Ave. The meeting will also be televised on Comcast Channel 19 in Evanston.

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...

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