Dist 117 Approves Budget, Names Temporary Replacement to Open School Board Position

By Jeremy Coumbes on September 29, 2022 at 9:51am

Jacksonville School District 117 has a new budget and a new, albeit temporary, member of the board.

The District 117 Board of Education met in a special session last night to hear the proposed budget for the new fiscal year, and to lay out plans and procedures for replacing a member of the board.

A public hearing was held immediately followed by the special meeting. During the hearing, District 117 Chief Financial Officer Richard Cunningham noted that the only change in the final draft was an increase in the operations and maintenance line item after some are reporting that energy costs could be as much as 40% higher this year over the last.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says overall, the budget is very similar to budgets the district has passed over the last ten years. “We underestimate our revenues and we overestimate our expenditures so the initial budget always shows a loss. Then at the end of the year as those come in we amend the budget and we’ve ended up with a net gain each of the last ten years.

This year we are really hoping that the corporate personal property replacement tax stays as high as it was last year, that’s the reason we made three million dollars last year. And if it stays up high, with the increased salaries, we will be at a zero balanced budget, with potentially making five hundred thousand to a million dollars a year. If the CPPRT comes down we could lose two or three million dollars this year.

Now, with the substantial fund balance that we’ve built up, we can afford to do that for this rough time for a year or two before we would have to start talking about how we would adjust.”

No one from the public chose to speak during the hearing and the budget was approved unanimously by the board during the special session.

The board then went into executive session for approximately 20 minutes before announcing the appointment of a new member. The Board of Education was tasked with replacing former member Steve Cantrell who passed away suddenly last Tuesday.

Board President Noll Beard said at last week’s regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday that the board was required to start the process of finding a new member and that they had anticipated that Steve Cantrell was going to run for reelection this November.

Beard says after consideration, one candidate stepped forward to help fill the void now since there is very little time left in Mr. Cantrell’s current term, so the board felt it was appropriate in this case to take special action.

We have suspended the portion of the policy that requires us to accept resumes and letters of interest. It is only a board policy, there is no law behind that portion of it. We had Jan Ryan express interest in being available to fill that position and so we are going to take her up on it. It’s someone that we know is experienced. We don’t have to worry about training, she has the required training. So she can step into that position and fill it until the election.”

Ryan served the district as both an educator and former board member for District 117. Beard says Ryan does not intend to run for the seat in November and is only

stepping into the position to fill the gap for the next six meetings before the winner of the election is installed in the seat.

Ryan will be sworn in at the next scheduled meeting in October.