Jacksonville School District #117 is bracing for impact of state budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school board heard from Treasurer Jamie Hadjan last night saying that the district’s revenues and expenditures have not factored into the district’s budget yet. Superintendent Steve Ptacek says that facility sales tax revenue is still ahead for the moment as well. During state updates, Ptacek said the district would have no access money despite schools not being in operation.
“We are not at all thinking we are coming out with any access in this situation in the long run. There’s not going to be access money. There might be in a short term in June 30, July 1st when it comes to a budget, but we have to prepare for next year, which could be ugly.”
Ptacek says there is going to be a substantial loss in state revenue for schools.
“We are of course regularly being informed of everything that is going on, The big thing we are working on right now is a potential loss in state revenue of up to $8 billion dollars for next year, that equates to $1.2 to $2.5 billion in the education fund.
Worst case scenarios are not good at all. Luckily that $29 million dollars, anytime anybody talks about that we don’t need a big fund balance, I’ve been harping for all seven years that I have been here that we definitely do because we can’t sell off our safety bonds. But the rainy day fund we always talk about, it’s going to hit us.”
Ptacek says planning has already begun if the rainy day fund gets substantially depleted.
“There are other districts that are going to have a hard time surviving over the next year. We are not in that situation, but we have to keep watching. I don’t want to jump into any Chicken Little, the sky is falling scenario because we also don’t know how long that will be. It might be a one year reduction, and then the economy might rebound, it might be a three or four year bad situation, we don’t know, but we will keep watching it.
But am I starting to think of how we could do some substantial cost savings both for next year, and if it looks like it will go into the future? Absolutely.
Ptacek says next year should not see a reduction in programs or staff. He said that releasing staff is beyond its legal window. He says if the reduction in revenue goes beyond next year, then next year will be spent about long-term budget reduction measures.
Noel Beard said that he would be attending a teleconference with Todd Bertran, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Boards next week to further discuss the state’s upcoming education fund reduction and how school boards across the state can begin to plan for massive shortfalls.