D159 Whittles Away at Deficit
Mokena District 159 has made progress on inching closer to the black—but still has a ways to go.
Mokena School District 159 is inching closer to being in the black, after frugal spending within the District in 2012. The district posted a $110,000 deficit—a significant improvement on the $1 million deficit in the previous fiscal year.
District Superintendent Steve Stein said several factors contributed to the shrinking deficit, including:
- health care costs that were lower than expected
- a salary freeze for teachers (which they agreed to)
- saving $111,000 of $160,000 set aside from contingency fund
“We did solve our issues with the teacher's contract and the teachers did agree to a freeze, that certainly was a big part of helping to put us on that path,” Stein said, adding, “I think there was still a ratcheting down by staff, at all levels, to not spend money. I think there are a number of things that go into [the lower deficit.]”
He also added that unlike in previous years, there was no intrafund transferring in 2012, stating that “if a line item went in the red, it stayed in the red.
“That was done purposefully,” Stein said. “I think it will ultimately allow us to track and plan our budgets in the future.”
Though the year looks to be a solid one for the District, he said that the board was reviewing an unaudited version of the final budget. The audit is set to begin on July 30.
Further discussion of the 2013 budget raised eyebrows among board members, as the projected deficit is estimated at $400,000. Stein cautioned that the budget was “preliminary,” and that several line items could change.
Projected spending in transportation costs, which is preliminarily budgeted at more than $110,000 more than the previous year despite lowered enrollment, and technology supplies and equipment, which is projected at a total of $115,800, drew particular interest from the board. Technology spending for the previous year was $39,468.
“I see money here for wireless computers, while we're still charging kids a lot of money to be put on the bus,” said Patrick Markham. “I think there's an awful lot of thought that needs to be put into this, in terms of wants versus needs.”
Also among the expected increased expenditures was a more than $20,000 raise—from $79,550 to $100,000—for the vacant business manager position.
“It's just a placeholder right now,” Stein said of the business manager's projected salary.
The Board of Education will again discuss the budget for FY2013 at its next meeting, Wednesday, Aug. 1. The budget will be approved after further discussion in September.
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