How do you plug a budget deficit of $1.25 million?
That is the question the Grayslake District 46 School Board is grappling with for the short and long-term financial health of the district.
The board discussed potential budget savings at its Sept. 19 meeting following a presentation and public hearing for the proposed $49.1 million budget for fiscal year 2012-13.
The budget has yet to be approved. Wednesday's vote ended in a 3-3 tie.
Board members Sue Facklam, Ray Millington and Karen Weinert voted to approve the budget while Kip Evans, Shannon Smigielski and Keith Surroz voted against it. Board member Michael Carbone was absent from the meeting.
The lack of a majority vote means the school board will need to hold a special meeting to take another vote before Sept. 30, which is the Illinois State Board of Education's deadline for school districts to adopt their budgets.
Chief School Business Official Anna Kasprzyk said Wednesday the proposed budget reflects a $2.5 million decrease in operating fund expenditures but projects an overall deficit of about $1.25 million.
Revenues have decreased $959,000 over last fiscal year.
The school board discussed ways to cut costs and save here and there. Some of the concepts include:
- Closing a school
- Reducing cost of summer projects
- Reducing curriculum dollars
- Revisiting substitute pay
- Reducing the number of bus routes
- Year-round schooling
- Blending grade schools
- Eliminating textbooks
- Reducing or eliminating extended school year programming
- Using media center more effectively
- Increasing registration fees
- Increasing building usage fees
- Limiting hours of building usage
- Bringing kitchen facilities back to lower lunch program costs
- Reducing health insurance
- Reducing mileage for staff
- Reducing cell phone costs
- Reducing legal fees
- Hiring a grant writer
- Not paying for travel costs to attend conference dinners
Transfer to Aid Ed Fund
Kasprzyk said the proposed budget includes two transfers, including an interfund transfer of $1.4 million from the sale of Lakeview School. This money is budgeted to be moved into the Education Fund, which has a deficit of nearly $1.3 million.
The Education Fund represents 67 percent of the overall budget and is the budget's largest fund at $33.1 million.
Board member Shannon Smigielski asked whether a portion of the Lakeview money could be diverted to be used to install air-conditiong at Meadowview and Woodview schools, an action many parents have called for after classes were cancelled Sept. 5 due to heat and humidity. Kasprzyk conceded it was possible.
The second budgeted transfer is the remaining bond proceeds of $1.1 million, which currently can only be used for capital projects at Frederick and Prairieview school, said Kasprzyk. By passage of a resolution, the money could be put into the Operations and Maintenance Fund so it could be used for capital projects at any school building. The money cannot be transferred to the Education Fund.
Kasprzyk also gave the board a report on the district's assets, which includes $2.6 million in working cash.
"Why are we not looking at that to transfer?" asked Smigielski. She added the asset sheet presented by Kasprzyk was "something I didn't know we had or how to use it."
"My understanding is if you move that to another fund it's an interfund loan that has to be repaid," said board member Sue Facklam.
Kasprzyk said the working cash funds are general funds used for short-term investments.
Facklam said the money is not in the budget per say, that it represents fund balances, and if the district intends to live by a balanced budget, that money cannot be used at will.