SYCAMORE – Sycamore School District 427 Board members could pass a balanced budget again for fiscal 2019, and they also are looking at not having to create a deficit reduction plan for the first time in years.
The board will discuss the district’s tentative budget for fiscal 2019 during its next meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday at Sycamore Middle School, 150 Maplewood Drive.
Nicole Stuckert, chief financial officer for District 427, said it’s the first time in at least a decade the district hasn’t had to do deficit reductions for its budget. She said the district began a three-year deficit reduction plan in fiscal 2016 to help reduce expenses by about $6 million to get to its balanced budget passed last fiscal year.
Stuckert said the main reasons the district was hemorrhaging money for a while included lack of payments from the state, the decline in the equalized assessed property tax values and the housing decline in 2008.
“That really affected us for the next four years from a local standpoint,” Stuckert said.
Stuckert said revenues have pretty much remained flat from the state and federal funding. She said the district might even get a little more money with the evidence-based funding model Gov. Bruce Rauner signed in 2017, through which the state sends more resources to districts with under-resourced students. District 427 was initially projected to receive an additional $300,000 in funding, but Stuckert said the added help won’t be significant enough to amend the fiscal 2019 budget at this point.
“If it is funded, we will get $261,000,” Countryman said.
Stuckert said district expenses have remained flat year-over-year, with the exception of teacher pay raises coming from the new contract that the district and teachers’ union passed last month.
Stuckert said Illinois school districts generally want to make sure they have 25 percent of the total operational fund balance in reserves, in case the district loses funding or ends up with a large unanticipated expense. She said the district is not there yet and hasn’t been there for some time, but district officials are working toward that recommendation with plans to keep a conservative balance between revenue and expenditures.
“We’re hitting our goal to have a balanced budget,” Stuckert said. “It’s something that we will continue to do going forward.”