No one showed up to comment at a public hearing Tuesday night on an $85.8 million budget to run Evanston Township High School for another year, so it was adopted unanimously by the District 202 Board.
The move came as no surprise, as the Board had adopted the tentative budget at its June meeting, and no changes were made in the final version.
Each year since the election of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2014, the ETHS administration has moved gingerly on the budget in the event that two of the governor’s campaign promises might become a reality.
One would be a freeze on property taxes that would hamper the district’s ability to keep up with ever-escalating costs. The other would be a proposed pension reform measure that would shift the responsibility for teacher pensions to the district. Currently that approximately $2 million expenditure is included in the state’s budget.
In a memo to the Board from Superintendent Eric Witherspoon that accompanied the final version, he noted that the $85.8 million total was 1.8 percent greater than last year’s budget, although the operating budget of $76.2 million is 2.3 percent more than the previous year’s, due primarily to personnel costs.
Witherspoon said the budget “is the result of conservative budgeting and deliberate containment of personnel costs, most of which are determined by contractual obligations.”
He noted that the district is subject to a cap on property taxes that amounts to 5 percent or the increase in the consumer price index, whichever is lower. For the past two years, that figure has been 2.1 percent, which Witherspoon says is “less than the District’s annual increases in labor costs and health care costs.”
He reiterated Tuesday night that the new budget represents the 13th consecutive year that the annual budget has been balanced.