School District 65 officials project payroll costs will rise much faster than property tax revenue over the next few years — leading to deep budget deficits.

The district three years ago rewarded its teachers with what was described then as the richest compensation package increase since the advent of tax caps in 1994.

That contract, signed early in what’s turned out to be a prolonged economic downturn, locked in pay hikes totalling 27 percent over the four years ending next June for most teachers. Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index has risen just 5 percent in the last three years.

The board did get teachers to agree to extend the school day by 10 minutes for elementary schools and 20 minutes for middle schools as part of the deal.

Going forward the board is projecting salary costs to increase by 3.7 percent a year, while projecting that the cost of living — and its tax revenues — will increase just 2.5 percent a year.

And it forecasts that employee benefits, including health insurance will rise at a rate of 8 percent per year — based on the rate of increase in the recent past.

The district has benefited recently from one-time increases in tax revenue, leading to modest budget surpluses. But it now forsees growing budget deficits, starting at $3.3 million for 2012-13 and rising to $8.7 million by 2015-16.

The district’s finance committee is scheduled to discuss a recently released set of recommendations from a citizens’ ad-hoc budget committee about what to do to close the deficit and the school administration’s responses when it meets at 6 p.m. tonight at the district administration building, 1500 McDaniel Ave.

Related story

Here’s a start: 30 D65 budget ideas

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. No Problem

    D65 does not have a problem. The contract for most teachers ends June 2012. If the board is any good at their jobs they will tell the union that there will be no salary increase for two years and contributions to benefits will also be frozen for the same time period. If the teachers want to maintain the same level of health care they will need to contribute the money to do so otherwise accept lower health care coverage that is offered with the 2011 level of contributions.

    Maybe the union dues can be used to help the union members, rather than using it to buy friendship with springfield pols.

  2. Start by requiring that all

    Start by requiring that all school district employees live in Evanston legally, not at a sham address.  Property taxes too high for them?  It's school taxes that contribute to that, and district employees could better be contributing to their own welfare in Evanston than to the tax revenue of other towns.

    These same employees, living in Evanston, would be more likely to purchase needs in Evanston and pay sales taxes here, again rather than contributing to some other town's sales-tax revenue.  Lots of people buy their groceries where they live; live in Evanston and be more likely to buy needs here and contribute to the city's sales taxes.

    Appky this to all city employees, and those who benefit from salaries here, benefits and retirement pensions here, could contribute to their own welfare along with Evanston's bottom  line.

    And do city employees get a paid holiday for their birthdays?

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