DeKalb School District 428 projects $2.8M budget deficit

DeKALB – DeKalb School District 428 is projecting to enter the 2013-14 school year with a $2.8 million deficit, but that could change with the governor’s signature.

That deficit – which is $500,000 more than the deficit the school district had for 2012-13 – is based on the state lowering the amount of general state aid to 83 percent.

General state aid is a formula for education funding that takes into account local wealth and student attendance. But with Illinois lawmakers passing a state budget that kept funding for local school districts at 89 percent, the district’s deficit would only be $2 million.

Gov. Pat Quinn has yet to sign the budget into law, so the district is playing it safe, said Andrea Gorla, assistant superintendent for business and finance.

“Until that’s signed, we’re not putting anything in writing,” Gorla said. “We’re not committing to it.”

The district projections were presented to the district school board at its Tuesday night meeting. The board did not vote on it. It usually approves the budget in September.

Board President Tom Matya indicated that the reduction of the district’s deficit from $2.8 million to $2 million did not leave the board off the hook.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Matya said.

DeKalb school officials said they lost $1.3 million in revenue for the 2012-13 school year when state payments were prorated at 89 percent. With each additional proration percentage point, they would have lost another $140,000.

If lawmakers funded school districts at 83 percent, DeKalb was expecting to lose another $840,000 in revenue.

The Illinois State Board of Education oversees the general state aid allocated to them by the Illinois General Assembly.

Officials at the state board make two monthly payments to school districts. When the legislature does not allocate enough money to public education, proration occurs.

Other assumptions present in the budget projection were that additional health insurance fees were being tacked on as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Gorla said these fees were being added on by insurance carriers as a result of the federal law.

The district is expecting to pay $228,000 in fees during the 2014 calendar year.

Another unknown is the ongoing contract negotiations with the local teachers’ union. Matya declined to comment on the negotiations, but Gorla said they expect a resolution in a month or two.