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Huntley School District 158 approves balanced budget

HUNTLEY – Huntley School District 158’s recently approved budget benefits from the new law that changes the way the state funds schools, the district’s chief financial officer said.

The fiscal 2018 budget, approved at Thursday’s board meeting, shows a slight increase in spending and revenue compared with last year. The district is expected to take in about
$100.9 million and spend about $100.8 million next year, according to the budget.

Last year, the district took in about $97.8 million and spent about $97.5 million, according to the budget. 

District 158 Chief Financial Officer Mark Altmayer said the district is one of the lowest operating cost districts in the western suburbs, spending $10,770 a student.

District 158 serves more than 9,600 students.

One of the biggest changes to the budget for fiscal 2018 is an increase in funding from the state because of the recent passing of Senate Bill 1947, which works to eliminate large disparities between rich and poor schools through a new needs-based formula.

Under the new plan, the state will determine how much money each district needs to adequately educate its students, taking into consideration the number who live in poverty, are English learners or need special education services. The state then looks at how much money the district is able to generate from property taxes, and directs aid first to districts that need it to reach its target.

“In the old formula, district state aid for us would be declining based on calculations,” Altmayer said. “This formula ensures we will not lose funding in the out years, and it’s a very good thing for the students, community and the district at Huntley 158.” 

The Illinois State Board of Education still is finishing calculations, but Altmayer said the district is expecting to receive between $600,000 and $800,000 in additional state funding.

He said he will submit an amended budget in November or December once official calculations are done. State funding makes up about 30 percent of the district’s budget, Altmayer said.

“I think the big thing to remember is while it sounds good and is good comparatively for us, the state is still broke, so you have to keep it in that backdrop,” board President Donald Drzal said. “The state could come in next year and say we have to cut overall education spending so there is less money coming in, and I think those possibilities continue to exist in the future.”

The budget also includes funds to replace and upgrade the Chromebooks that are given to each student as part of the district’s 1-to-1 program.

Increased student enrollment has led to spending $600,000 in additional staff to help with either managing additional students or student needs, such as an uptick in special education needs or a desire for a trending subject.

Additionally, a deferred maintenance fund allows the district to set aside money for future maintenance projects at the nine schools in the district, Altmayer said.

Some of the capital projects planned for fiscal 2018 include roof replacements for Heinenman and Marlowe middle schools and Conley and Mackeben elementary schools, and asphalt repair in the parking lots at Chesak and Martin elementary schools.

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