For the second year in a row, will be operating under a deficit budget.
During its monthly business meeting Monday night, the District 210 unanimously approved the budget for the 2011-2012 school year. The district is projecting $24,440,445 in revenue and $25,232,274 in expenditures, resulting in an overall deficit of $1,066,477.
The information was presented to the board by District 210 Business Manager Dave Middleton, who said the final budget was put together "using the best current information available."
The approved budget is an improvement over the tentative budget presented to the board in August, which showed a deficit of $1,528,162, Middleton said. Last year, the district's advisers at PMA Financial originally forecasted a deficit of approximately $1.8 million for the 2011-2012 school year.
This year marks the second consecutive deficit budget adopted by District 210. Last year, the budget projected a deficit of about $1.25 million, but the unaudited final deficit was approximately $900,000, according to the presentation.
District 210 is in a position to cover the deficit using its reserve funds, which Middleton said is due to the board's "longstanding practice of careful spending."
According to District 210 Superintendent Sandra Doebert, a significant portion of the deficit is a result of financial factors that the district cannot control, such as a $480,000 increase in costs for required special education services. The district has also seen a reduction of more than $190,000 in federal and state funding in areas like special education and transportation.
Doebert said the board has used conservative spending practices over the past 25 years to build its reserves, which allows the district to have additional funds for times when the tax cap and federal and state budget cuts do not allow enough revenue to cover its financial obligations.
have included the elimination of the summer driver education program and several faculty positions, reduced departmental budgets and field trips, and limited salary increases for administrators and non-certified employees. The school also has increased student fees, implemented increased facility usage fees for outside users, instituted extra-curricular participation fees for its students, and increased the cost of student and staff lunches
"The board over the course of past 25 years knew that with the tax cap they would reach a point where their obligations would be greater than the revenue that would be coming in," Doebert said. "They prepared in advance for this knowing that we need to (use reserve funds). However, they are also taking responsibility over a long period of time ... to seek additional revenue and decrease expenditures."
During a public hearing held prior to regular board meeting, members of the audience questioned the proposed deficit.
Lemont resident Laura Reigle said the board "has a fiscal responsibility to have a balanced budget from year to year," and said the public deserves more information about the deficit before the budget is adopted.
Bill Montgomery, also a Lemont resident, compared District 210 to a business and echoed Reigle's call for a balanced budget.
"I'm a businessman and I look at this as a business. It's a business of educating students," he said. "... I can't understand how a business would continue to run deficits. I know we have reserves, but those shouldn't be used."
District 210 Board President Beverly Marzec said the reserve funds were created in anticipation of the current financial situation, and that they have put Lemont High School in a position that is "envied by many other school districts."
Despite the deficit, Marzec said the board is prepared to make more difficult cuts in the coming years.
"We know there are tough decisions ahead, and we will make those tough decisions," she said.
The 2011-2012 budget can be viewed online at www.lhs210.net.