Capital projects cause budgetary deficit

Fox River Grove School District 3 is looking at a deficit in its budget of 27.64% going into fiscal 2019-20, but district officials said this is because of capital projects being done in school buildings.

“If we were not doing the rest of this capital project, we would have a surplus at the end of the year,” Superintendent Tim Mahaffy said.

These capital projects, which the district budgeted $3,436,636 for in the upcoming year’s expenditures, include STEM/STEAM labs at Fox River Grove Middle School and Algonquin Road Elementary School, a new entrance for the elementary school and classroom renovations in both buildings.

The majority of the classroom renovations have been completed. One more major bid on the project is going out this fall and will be completed next summer, Mahaffy said.

“This has been a part of our spending we have had community input on,” Mahaffy said.

Board president Kristine Hester said all of this was a “known expense.”

“At the end of this project, we will be operating on having enough in our fund balances to maintain a healthy fiscal status,” she said.

Mahaffy said this board and previous ones have been able to save the money to do this project, and thus avoided having to do a referendum on raising people’s taxes to pay for the project.

“That doesn’t happen often, so we’re very proud of that,” he said.

Hester said the board looked long term and asked themselves how it could save the money it was taking in, instead of asking for anything more.

At a recent board meeting, the district approved the tentative budget for the fiscal 2020. In total, the district will get $10,457,081 in funding, and spend $13,347,464. Its projected fund balance for the end of fiscal 2019-20 is $4,831,506.

District 3 gets 82.96% of its funding from local sources such as property taxes, 14.55% from the state and 2.49% from federal sources.

This upcoming fiscal year, the district is estimating it will collect $3,078,885 in property taxes.

The district also is set to get $1,052,163 under the state’s evidence-based funding formula.

Mahaffy said the district projects it will receive all 22 payments from the state, including $455 in tier funding from the evidence-based funding formula. Under the formula, schools are ranked with funding adequacy levels from Tier 1 through Tier 4. School districts rates as Tier 1 schools receive the greatest share of school funding because they are in the greatest need of assistance.

Fox River Grove moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4. Mahaffy said this won’t affect the district’s base funding minimum from the state. It does mean the district gets less tier funding, which is allocated if the state has additional dollars, he said.

“It’s a good thing to be in that tier,” Hester said. “It means you get less money from the state, which you have to adjust for, but it means that your fiscal health is strong.”

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