The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 Board to vote upon budget, expense items
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 is set to vote on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget as well as $326,749 in expenditure items at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Sept. 28. The items were presented at the Sept. 14 meeting which was held electronically due to COVID-19 regulations.
Spending in the budget is set to rise from $594.3 million to $599.5 million, a $6.2 million increase, and revenue from $596 million to $602.4 million, a $6.4 million increase. Enrollment is projected to drop for the sixth straight year, from 37,886 students to 37,403.
The long-term trend of large spending increases despite large enrollment drops is expected to continue indefinitely. If the budget projections are realized, spending will have increased 45.1 percent between 2012 and 2024 from $430 million to $624 million (a $194 million increase) while enrollment will have declined 13.4 percent from 40,687 to 35,252 (a loss of 5,435 students).
The district again plans to seek the largest property tax increase allowed under the law with revenue proposed to rise from $306.9 million to $319.1 million, a 4 percent increase. U-46 plans to seek an average of $8 million additionally a year from property taxpayers reaching $339 million by 2024.
A public hearing on the budget was held, but no comments were made. The board offered no discussion.
Unrelated to the budget, the board allowed a public commenter five minutes and 20 seconds, nearly double the board’s policy, to praise the district for keeping schools in distance learning. In contrast, a few years ago the board changed its public comment policy to reduce the time from three minutes to two if a certain number of people requested to make a comment, this coming after large numbers of the public spoke out against a U-46 change in practice.
The expenditure items include a contract renewal with Northwest Evaluation Association costing $203,000 (education fund) for MAP testing.
Sue Kerr, the board’s president, said MAP tests are generally done three times a year and asked about this year’s plans and Laura Hill, director of assessment and accountability, said: “We are not administering the MAP assessment currently, so that would be considered the fall term. Our plans are to hopefully administer in winter and spring.”
A contract renewal with Workforce Software has a price tag of $94,949 (education fund) for workforce timeclock annual support and licensing. With Falls Mechanical Insulation, Inc., the board will vote on a $28,800 (operation and maintenance fund) bid for a pipe insulation project at Elgin High School.