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Rock Falls High School balances budget for third straight year

September 21, 2018

ROCK FALLS – For the third year in a row, Rock Falls High School will have a balanced budget.

But that balanced budget hasn’t come without sacrifices – something the district’s superintendent hopes to change once a new funding formula shakes out.

The school board Wednesday approved an $8.3 million budget, $7.5 million of which is the education fund, which pays for teacher salaries, books and supplies.

It has a $348,068 surplus, the result of conservative budgeting and the state’s new evidence-based funding formula, which provided about $228,000 in FY2019 and about $315,000 in FY2018.

Before evidence-based funding kicked in, the FY17 surplus was $12,906. The budget had a $6,291 deficit in FY16.

Because budgets have been running so close to the bone, programs have had to be cut.

“Two years ago, we had to restrict juniors from attending Whiteside Area Career Center courses in order to balance our budget,” Superintendent Ron McCord said.

The evidence-based funding formula, which takes full effect this year, is designed to assess each individual district’s cost to educate its students, and provide funds accordingly.

It takes into account factors such as how many students live in poverty, property values and the resulting tax revenue, and total enrollment – not daily attendance. It has so far resulted in poorer districts receiving more money than under the old formula.

If that increased fiscal support holds, McCord is confident his district can bring back lost programs and resources.

“Because of the extra funding, we were able to hire a new math teacher, and we plan to bring back WACC for juniors,” McCord said.

“Improving our school means everything. It’s the most important thing we do.”

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