No Pay Raise in Orland D135's New Budget as Teacher Negotiations Continue
Fiscal year 2011-2012 budget balanced with reserve transfer; drops in state funds, interest income and more.
Orland School District 135 board members approved a balanced 2011-2012 budget on Monday, thanks in part to an expected freeze in administrative and teacher pay, as well as transfer from reserves.
Total revenues are slated at $75.1 million, with total expenditures at $73.8 million. About another $2 million has been appropriated for capital improvement projects, meaning the district will need to move some $800,000 from its reserves to balance the total budget.
For a third consecutive year, District 135’s operating expenditures are expected to decrease. This year’s decrease is estimated around $650,000, according to Asst. Supt. for Business Services John Reiniche.
He credited an initiative by the board to reduce department budgets by 10 percent and attrition, noting, “It’s just proper planning.”
The state’s share of general aid, which is based on enrollment, and transportation funding has of course dropped, which forces the district to pull from its reserves, thereby lowering its source of interest gained from investments—about $1.5 million in four years.
General aid is determined mostly by property wealth and enrollment. Although the foundation level was set last year at $6,119 per pupil, District 135 received $447 per pupil.
Additionally, the Illinois State Board of Education cut two grants—the Reading Block and the Early Childhood At-Risk— totaling $300,000. Even without the grant, the district has no immediate plans to cut the At-Risk program.
Local property taxes make up about 75 percent of the school district’s revenue, which is 20 percent higher than the average school district in Illinois and two percent lower than last year. A diverse pool of residential and commercial taxpayers helps shelter District 135 from cuts in the state’s budget, Reiniche said. However, the district has absorbed more than $5 million in property tax refunds in the past three year.
Meanwhile, the district has managed to double its investment dollars in technology, increasing the fund by $250,000.
This year, the district maintained a bond rating of AA+ from Standard and Poor’s, one notch away from the highest possible rating. A higher rating means lower debt payments, which means more money spent in the classroom, Board President John Carmody said. The school district’s ISAT scores, among the highest in the region, have increased or remained steady seven years in a row, according to the Interactive Illinois Report Card.
The district has yet to settle on a new teachers contract. Although Reiniche wouldn’t comment on the details of the negotiations, he said the district is hoping to keep teachers’ pay steady. In fact, the budget approved on Monday reflects no change for all teachers, administrative, at-will and confidential positions.