Plainfield SD 202 projects operating budget surplus
BY FRANK VAISVILAS Correspondent September 20, 2013 7:52PM
Updated: October 23, 2013 6:38AM
PLAINFIELD — For the first time in five years since the height of the recession, Plainfield school officials are projecting a surplus in the district’s operating budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The proposed budget is scheduled to be voted on Monday night after a public hearing.
The total budget shows a deficit of about $939,000, but that includes payments for construction bonds. Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 spokesman Tom Hernandez said the total for those bonds is substantial because of the district’s rapid growth over the years. But he said the emphasis should be on the operating budget, which includes daily operations, curriculum, resources, salaries and other expenses.
“There is an operating fund surplus of $960,000,” Hernandez said. “This is the part that most people care about.”
Hernandez said no significant cuts to programs or personnel are included in the proposed budget.
Assistant Supt. Angie Smith said the projected surplus is due in part to a projected increase in state aid, which accounts for about 25 percent of the operating budget revenue. An increase in property tax revenue also is expected, Smith said.
Last year, the original budget had an $8.8 million deficit, later amended to $1.8 million. But officials turned that into a $2.4 million surplus in actual results by the end of the fiscal year.
Smith said it helped that the district filled fewer contingency positions than it budgeted for. She said officials don’t know at the beginning of the school year how many special-education aides will be needed, for example, so extra funds are set aside for their salaries.
The district saved $1.6 million by not filling all or those positions and by keeping overtime to a minimum. The district also saved $1 million from what it budgeted for textbooks and school supplies, in part because of digital versions of books being available online, Smith said.
The 2013-14 operating expenses are projected at $242 million, a $4.6 million increase from last year, with revenues projected at $242.9 million.
Employee raises and $800,000 for heating and cooling maintenance and equipment account for much of the increase in expenses.
Smith said the proposed budget was presented to the board a month ago and has been posted on the district’s website, but she has not yet received any comments, questions or concerns from residents.
The public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the administrative center at 15732 Howard St. The regular board meeting is slated for 7:30 p.m.