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Joliet high school district balances budget

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 11:09 p.m. CDT

JOLIET – The Joliet Township High School District 204 budget has a surplus for the second straight year.

The balanced budget presented to the school board Tuesday follows deficits of $6.2 million in 2012 and $8.9 million in 2013.

The tentative budget shows a surplus of more than $600,000 by the end of the 2014-15 school year. However, the final budget will likely show a balance closer to zero, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Ilandus Hampton told the school board during a presentation Tuesday.

Hampton’s office continues to fine-tune the budget as actual numbers for state grants and state aid come in, he said.

A public hearing and final budget presentation is scheduled to take place at the regular board meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at the district office.

The school district ended the last fiscal year with a surplus of $5.3 million. Revenues were $114.7 million and expenditures were $109.3 million.

This year, projected revenues and expenditures are $98.2 million and $97.6 million, respectively.

“Because of the uncertainty with our state revenues and some concern over our local taxrevenues, I have been very conservative in the revenue estimates,” Hampton said.

Last year, Gov. Pat Quinn called for massive cuts to state spending on school buses. According to Hampton’s report, “This is a clear statement about the state’s commitment for regular transportation; a complete disregard for the local and rural communities and students that need transportation to their schools.”

Furthermore, Joliet and other school districts eligible for state aid have received 89 percent of what is statutorily owed to them for the past few years, Hampton said.

In response to state funding cuts, the Joliet school district has cut back on spending by as much as 10 percent, Hampton said.

Cuts have included curtailing field trips and reworking school bus routes to reduce transportation costs. Maintenance costs also are projected to decrease, as the district leased about 100 new buses this past summer.

Staff has been cut back through attrition and overtime has been reduced, Hampton added.

Enrollment growth has remained at about 50 students a year, compared to 150 students coming in about seven years ago, Hampton said.

The only large projects in the current budget are a proposed new concession stand at Joliet Central High School, expected to cost about $350,000, and improvements to Central and Joliet West music programs, which will cost about $50,000 a year.

A new $28 million student center being built at Joliet Central has been funded through a bond issue. That project broke ground earlier in June and is expected to be completed in spring 2016.

Board President Jeff Pierson said the district has not increased student fees for the fourth year and continues to “live within its means.”

Health center grant sought

Joliet Central High School and the Will County Community Health Center will apply for a $650,000 federal grant for a school-based health center at the high school. The school board has not yet given approval to the project.

Joliet Central Principal John Randich and Mary Maragos, chief executive officer with the Will County Community Health Center, told the board that a survey of students, parents and staff generated positive feedback about the health center proposal.

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