The Valley View School District 365U school board passed its 2012-2013 budget with a unanimous vote Monday night.
The $275 million budget is $17.2 million more than the 2011-2012 budget. School officials said the addition of all-day kindergarten to the district accounts for $13.5 million of that increase.
Salaries and benefits account for 71.7 percent of the budget, according to Gary Grizaffi, assistant superintendent of administrative services.
Salaries are up 3 percent in the budget to $136,613,903 (49.7 percent of the total budget). Benefits are up 8.1 percent to $60,328,539 (22 percent of the total budget). Grazaffi said there was a net decrease of 7.93 positions from FY12 to FY13.
Loss in revenue
Three primary revenue sources for the school district decreased $4.2 million, according to Grizaffi:
- $1.7 million in general state aid
- $1.2 million in transportation reimbursement
- $1.29 million in corporate personal property replacement tax
General state aid has decreased to $1,060 per student, or $18.7 million. That's a decrease of $1.7 million than the prior year, or $96 per student. The district was receiving about $1,500 per student four years ago, Grizaffi said.
Cut services or spend reserve funds
Grizaffi said the district has two choices when revenue isn't covering expenses -- to cut services or to draw money from its reserves to make up the difference (to "use its rainy fund because it's raining," as Grizaffi put it).
"This board has said collectively that we have a decent fund balance built over the years," Grizaffi said. "We're doing the best we can to maintain the level of programming."
100 days of operations
That being said, Grizaffi has recommended the district maintain enough money at the end of the fiscal year to run the district for at least 90 days.
In the current budget, operating funds stand at $243,706,271. With a total budget of $274,611,153, the district is using money from its fund balance to cover the difference. When all the bills are paid and the fiscal year draws to a close, the school district will be left with enough money leftover to function for 100 days.
Last fiscal year, the district was left with enough operating reserves to function for 165 days. Taking any more money out of the district's fund balance will "take us to an area we have not been for the last five years," Grizaffi said.
Getting to a low point balance of 30 days would be a "precarious situation."
Grizaffi said school districts receive the bulk of their revenue in June and September, unlike villages or park districts which receive more consistent funding throughout the year.
What about teachers' contract negotiations?
One resident asked how the budget could be passed when teachers' contract negotiations are ongoing. Officials said they are required by state law to pass a budget by a certain date. The approved budget contains assumed salary increases for teachers. If the number is higher or lower than that assumption, the budget can be amended.
A taxpayer speaks out
A woman who identified herself as "Josephine" said increased property taxes are becoming too much for homeowners in the Valley View district. Josephine said when she first moved to Bolingbrook her property taxes were $1,700. They are now $5,500.
"I'm worried I will not be able to live in (my) house anymore because taxes are going so high," she said. "You see families that have to get second jobs (to pay their taxes). There are kids on the street."
Josephine urged the board to live within its means.
"You have to stop treating homeowners as a cow that will always give you that sweet milk," she said. "We have a family and we have lives, too."
School Board President Steven Quigley said the district does its best to address that problem.
"That's the problem we face," Quigley said. "We want to provide a quality education for our kids, keep people who are empty nester happy, keep people with kids happy..."
Board Member Rick Gougis said the county assessors are also to blame for higher taxes by over-assessing homes. The assessed value of a home is factured into the property tax bill.
"I know I can't sell my house for the amount the assessor says my house is worth," he said.