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District 202 Budget on Display with $8.9 Million Deficit

District 202 board to also consider placing locked gun safes in the district high schools and granted a five-year tax abatement to a global baked goods manufacturer

has put its 2012-13 budget on public display with a projected $8.9 million operating fund deficit.

The school board is working on ways to erase the deficit and will likely file an updated amended budget with the state in early 2013.

Finances continue to change weekly, district officials said. Last month, the district anticipated an operating fund deficit of $8.1 million, but then district officials learned that its general state aid dropped by about $1.2 million. Other revenues, including Title I, funding increased.

Meanwhile, state officials are trying to decide if teacher pension plan responsibilities will be shifted to local school districts.

“We’re trying to put a puzzle together without all the pieces,” said Angela Smith, the district’s assistant superintendent for business and operations.

The proposed operating budget includes $242 million in expenses, compared with $242.2 million last year (down 1 percent), while operating revenues are at $233.1 million, down from $242.8 million last year, a decrease of 4 percent, according to the district.

State funding has decreased by about $9 million, or 11 percent, from last year, district officials said.

The district plans to see whether to spend some or all of an anticipated $7.5 million surplus from the 2011-12 budget to help reduce the deficit, Smith said. The administration is also looking at non-personnel cuts to bring to the board in the coming months for consideration, she said.

The budget is on the district website (www.psd202.org) under “Announcements.” A public hearing will be held at 5:45 p.m. Sept. 24 at the administrative center before the board votes on it.                                          

Board mulls gun safe purchase

In other news, the district will consider a proposal from the to buy and install four gun safes in the high schools in the event there is an active shooter in the building.

The board will continue to review the proposal next month, but will first work with its legal department on the language for the possible agreement.

Under the proposal brought forth by the Plainfield Police Department, a secure gun safe would be installed in the office of the school resource officer, allowing the officer quick access to their AR-15 rifle in case there is a shooter in the building.

If approved, the safes would be installed at , , and . falls under the Joliet Police Department’s jurisdiction.

According to the police department’s memo, if an active shooter were inside the high school, the school resource officer would be first to respond, and officers are better equipped to handle this type of incident with a long gun, such as an AR-15 rifle, rather than with a handgun. The rifle is more accurate at longer distances, giving the officer a greater ability to handle the situation, the memo said.

School board president Roger Bonuchi said the police department conducts drills yearly on handling school shootings.

“The police department is right on top of that to protect our schools,” he said.

Tax Abatements

Finally, the school board on Monday approved a five-year tax abatement for Aryzta, LLC, a Switzerland-based food business with a focus on bakery goods.

Aryzta is looking to build a $90 million facility and employ more than 240 people on District 202 land in Romeoville, according to the Will County Center for Economic Development. The company is looking to build on a potential site in the Boldt Park industrial development, 1120 W. Crossroads Parkway, and the Will County CED asked the district to consider a five-year 50 percent abatement program to help develop the project.

The land now generates about $22,000 in property taxes per year for the district, Smith said. Under the abatement proposal, the district is anticipated in receiving nearly $286,000 in revenue per year, she said.

The district’s Foundation for Excellence will also receive $15,000 from the company over the course of three years, according to the tax abatement agreement.

When approving the tax abatement plan, board member Rod Westfall said companies could have easily taken their investment and jobs elsewhere, but are choosing to locate here.

“Fifty percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing,” he said.

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