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Schools expect to hit budget target

Despite a rocky economy and nervousness over the ability of the state to pay its obligations to school districts, the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board’s Finance Committee heard good news Monday night from Comptroller Kathy Zalewski that the operating budget is about to end the year with a slight surplus.

Despite a rocky economy and nervousness over the ability of the state to pay its obligations to school districts, the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board’s Finance Committee heard good news Monday night from Comptroller Kathy Zalewski that the operating budget is about to end the year with a slight surplus.

Revenues are projected to end the year at $94.3 million, or 99 percent of its $95.5 million budget, while expenses are expected to come in at $94.2 million, compared with budgeted expenditures of $95.4 million. The upshot is that the district expects to end the year with an operating surplus of $54,042, compared with a budgeted $51,879 surplus.

With three weeks left in the fiscal year that ends on June 30, some of the budget expectations, both positive and negative, are bound to be altered that would affect the final figures. But with the school year ended and kids going off on their summer pursuits, the dye appears to be cast for a successful financial year.

In the meantime, the committee turned its attention to next year’s budget that contains a number of measures, adopted at the Board’s May meeting, designed to cope with uncertain revenues and spiraling costs, including reductions in instructional and administrative support staff as well as other expenditure reductions.

After incorporating those assumptions, the draft budget presented at Monday’s meeting calls for a revenue increase in the operating budget of 3 percent over the current year, while operating expenditures are projected to increase by 1 percent, resulting in a surplus of $1.4 million.

The All Funds Budget, however, would have a deficit of $7.8 million due to Life Safety, Capital Building, and Technology projects that are being funded by the sale of bonds. Comptroller Zalewski cautioned, however, that because the state budget remains unapproved, state revenues will be revised once the final state appropriation for fiscal 2011 is available. And that could force further budget tightening.

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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