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U-46 presents timeline for 2020 budget process

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 was presented with the tentative timeline for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 25.
  The tentative budget is expected to be presented first on June 17 and again on Aug. 12 after board discussions, a public hearing is planned for Sept. 9 and a final board vote is currently set for Sept. 23.
  On April 23 the administration plans to establish priorities and the board will discuss priorities. Board finance committee meetings are scheduled for May 20 and Aug. 12.
  “This is similar to the timeline that we’ve used in the past to meet all of the requirements of the budget,” said Dale Burnidge, director of financial operations.
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said another thing to remember that is not a part of the timeline is the annual reductions in force which he said “really drives a lot of our budget because if you don’t do a reduction of force the same staff will be returning the following year. While it’s not on here, our staffing really drives much of the budget that goes into this upcoming budget year.”
  According to the FY2019 budget’s future projections the FY2020 budget is expected to set revenue at $564.3 million (a $3.2 million increase) and expenditures at $559.1 million (a $1 million increase). At the same time, it projects enrollment to drop by 1,329 students next year to 37,243.
  This year’s budget hiked spending 7.8 percent ($40.2 million) to $558.1 million and revenue by 10.2 percent ($52 million) to $561.1 million.
  The budget hikes this year, which included the addition of 54 new positions, came despite the fourth year of enrollment declines as U-46 lost 633 students (39,205 to 38,572) according to the district’s presentation in November. The district’s numbers showed a loss of 1,915 total students since 40,487 in 2014.
  According to the state board of education’s data, spending has increased nearly $100 million since 2014 which is over $70 million faster than the rate of inflation according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator. Academic results have consistently lagged behind the state and been flat or declining in the district during that same time.
  If the district’s projections are realized from the FY2019 budget, there will have been a 13.1 percent drop in enrollment from 2012 to the 2021-2022 school year while costs are expected to rise by 36.3 percent over the same period.
  On the same night the budget timeline was presented, the January financial report was presented to the board. The report showed that the district has received $288 million in total revenue, up from $260.1 million the same month in the prior year, and has spent $308.7 million, up from $300 million the prior year.
  Burnidge said the revenue increases from last year are largely due to payments from the state’s so-called “evidence-based” funding formula, and spending increased largely due to the $5.9 million spent on bus purchases.
  The total fund balances at the end of January were $275.4 million which Burnidge said was “a decrease of $55.3 million from December.” He said January is usually the worst month for cash flow as it represented 4 percent of this year’s budgeted revenue but 16 percent of its expenditures, most from $37 million in debt service payments.
  Board member Sue Kerr noted an increase in federal funding from last year ($17.4 million compared to $13.1 million). Burnidge said that Title I funds were delayed last year and added: “We are a little bit ahead right now, but that’ll even out in March.”
  Sanders noted: “It’s not them paying ahead. It’s still reimbursement only.”




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