D159 Whittles Away at Deficit

Mokena District 159 has made progress on inching closer to the black—but still has a ways to go.

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 . “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.


Want more District 159 news? We know where to find it!

carole July 26, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I am in hope President Markum that you review this budget with broad view. It seems that you would, but I am concerned with the quality of education that we are providing for the Mokena children. That I am hoping you don't lose sight of. Where are test scores compared to others in the area? What is going on with the boys basketball? Too late to register with the conference? Who dropped that ball. Nothing as to what would replace it. I guess money was saved on that also. But we are a feeder to Lincolnway East or were. No plans for an intramural to replace that program. Did anyone on the board ask what would replace that program. Surely President Markum and the board realize we could save money if the children only went to school for 1 hour a day. That would certainly put us in the black. Here is an idea...When the parents come to register their children why don't you give registration forms to the other schools in the area that parents could sign up for.If you cut the enrollment you save MORE money and rightly so that seems to be the bottom line,doesn't it.
JJ Regan July 26, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I have to commend the board on a Great Job this Year. After all the doom and gloom the past couple of years this is great to see.
carole July 26, 2012 at 04:00 PM
No one is saying that the board hasn't done a difficult job. I am merely pointing out that there is more to being on the school board than the budget. I would like for them to not overlook the quality of education due to the cost. JJ if you think the doom and gloom is gone you are mistaken. Try to sell your house to someone who knows some of the shenanigans going on in the district now. You say they don't care. I say they don't have a child in the public schools.
Jeff Graveline July 26, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Carole, I don't know where you got the information that boy's basketball isn't happening or isn't in the conference. All three grade levels are in expected to be active this year, and all three grade levels are in the conference. The only stumbling block for any sport or activity, including boys basketball, is the number of students who sign up or try out for the sport or activity. Here's a link, directly from the district, on signing up for an Schedule B activities: http://www.mokena159.org/MJH/Documents/Pay%20to%20participate%20payment%20sheet%20Revised%20June%202012.pdf
P O'd Parent July 26, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Hey Carol, do me a favor, Pull Your head out!!! Will Ya??? It must be dark and hard to breathe up there!! I am sooo sick of people like you that didnt get your way in the vote and now will find anything to whine about!!!! OMG If your stating your worried about the quaility of Education you should talk to your teacher friends and make certain they dont teach your children any less than they have been, which if I can remember correctly wasnt that hot prior to the board elections.
patrick markham July 26, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Thank You JJ, and others. Carole, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. We have not done enough yet. However be aware that we made sure all activities WOULD be in conference this year AND reduced the fees. I wish we could have eradicated them and hope to be able to do so in future. You Might check minutes of meetings or other newsclips and find I am a relentless advocate of "children first". I took it upon myself to donate and find others to donate the the MES Stars Program and anything else one person can do. I NEED your input to properly do my JOB as i am SIMPLY a REPRESENTATVE , elected to represent community, parents , children. PLEASE come to meetings or even have a cup o joe with me. It is MY DUTY to represent ALL. The toughest part is gettng good input. Regarding my budget focuse, we are required by law to have it submitted by a date certain, so surely that in top on the pile right now. By the way, we threw a carnival for children... and community. The park district has agreed to donate some picnic tables for kids, the blue demons are now able to dress up their ball fields and on and on and YET it is NOT enough. I know that. I will keep on fighting or advocating. Please help me when you can. Patrick Markham
R.W.Voter July 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Hey Carole, I suggest that maybe the kids be allowed to take their courses online, like most of the teachers do. I think the board did a great job, and hope that they continue, I feel that they should eliminate sports in elementary school, they can do that in high school. Let the competition come from doing well in the subjects taught. Carole, do you pay taxes on a home in Mokena, just asking, because you actually sound like someone who is employed by the District. Property taxes are much too high now especially for those older people, and people will not moved into an area with very high taxes and that is Mokena. I personally wish I moved out of state due to the plague caused by unionized teachers and other union public employees. Keep it up Mr. Markham. Thank you.
carole July 26, 2012 at 06:02 PM
It was stated in the paper that they had missed the conference deadline to sign up. If you notice the girls play in the fall and the boys play in the winter,. Maybe they are wrong in what they stated. I'm sorry I can't remember which one as it was months ago. I kept waiting for some explanation and there was no change or correction. That is great if they continue. I did see that there weren't enough boys to play. Really who are we suppose to believe here? POParent, don't assume that you are the only one who was against the referendem. Wouldn't your Mother be proud of you?? That is my point exactly...will the board make sure that the education is better than it was or just mediocre.
IIA Alumni July 26, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I'm glad that things are turning around and I'm glad that it's being done without a referendum. So I am very relieved that the referendum did not pass. I'm glad that the board is taking a closer look at numbers and figuring out solutions. Let's continue to work together: school board, teachers, parents and community. We need to always remember that we're trying to do what's best for our kids. Thank you to the people that are participating in a positive way to set a good example for our children and community. I'm excited to move forward.
carole July 26, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Good luck Mr. Markum, I think you will do a fine job as President. There are so many areas that need consideration and improvement. I hope we can continue to be a decent feeder school to LWE. We always have been and it is concerning to hear from the comments that have such tunnel vision for education. There are such wonderful parents in our District that take their own time to volunteer for the children and I feel they get lost in this Referendum tumult!! That is behind us for now and Good Luck Pat! Now about that cup of coffee...
Lonny July 26, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Clearly most of the thanks has to go to the "unionized" teachers who agreed to a pay freeze. "That certainly was a big part of helping to put us on that path (to solvency)". As before, it is the teachers who sacrifice for the students and the community.
R.W.Voter July 26, 2012 at 09:11 PM
And if they didn't agree, what would they do, Strike? Thank you
happy and content July 27, 2012 at 05:37 PM
PO'd parent, you come across as a very angry individual. I feel embarrassed for you when I read what you write....there is no need to get so nasty.
patrick markham July 27, 2012 at 06:04 PM
LOL Carole, thank you, i will do my best to simply represent people, being elected does NOT mean someone is smartest kid in class. It Does mean , represent people, etc..... ANYTIME cup o joe, well ... LOL almost anytime. my personal email is: pmarkham 1@yahoo.com If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking
C. Martinez July 29, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Dear Mr. Markham, I would like to know why the purported 2% projected increase for district administration is not 2%. My calculations show only two people getting a 2% raise: the Director of Building and Grounds and Director of Technology. While the Director of Business Operations show a projected 25.71% increase and the Director of Student Services is getting a 66.67% increase. The numbers and percentages don't align with what's being reported. I would like to know what's going on. If there is extra money, shouldn't this money be used back into school programs or updating our bullying policies or just save it? I would like more explanation regarding the administration raises. Can you please explain so that I may better understand why this is happen the way it is? I will try to attach a photo of the calculations in this news thread, Can you please review and explain why some of the positions are getting an exorbitant increase? Please advise. Thank you.
C. Martinez August 01, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Please come out to the school board meeting tonight. Let's get involved, participate and do what's best for our kids. Tonight (Wednesday) 7:00PM MES BAND ROOM. See you there! Unity in community! Come out parents and community members of Mokena!
carole August 01, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Can the school board meeting be covered by cable? It may be too late today but what about in the future?
C. Martinez August 01, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Something we can bring up tonight at the board meeting. Please come out tonight to the board meeting.


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