Dist 117 Prepares for Deficit in New Fiscal Year

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 27, 2020 at 9:39am

District 117 Administrators are mentally preparing to operate in a budget shortfall in the next fiscal year, but say this is the type of rainy day they have been saving for.

The District 117 School Board reviewed the tentative budget at their regular meeting last night. Treasurer Jamie Hadjan informed the board as of right now, the district is projected to have a $1.1 million deficit for FY2020/21. However, given the unknowns, it is difficult to know what to expect in the coming months.

Hadjan says she is hoping for a balanced budget by the end of the year, but is fully prepared for a shortfall. District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the combination of increased spending and possible drops in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic means the district needs to be prepared for the possibility of a considerable deficit.

We are spending a lot of extra money this year for remote learning, technology, the list goes on and on for all the expenses this year that are not usually in a regular year.

With that and based upon the state and that we don’t know what’s going to happen with EBF funding, whether we are fully going to get all of our funding that they have said will be flat.

I know the state’s having budget issues themselves, so with that, I would not be too shocked if we don’t have a million to three million dollar reduction this year, and we are planning mentally for that.”

Hadjan says two grants the district received this year is helping to offset some of the added expenditures needed for continuing school during the pandemic. The Elementary and Secondary Relief Grant of approximately $977,000 in funding provided by the CARES Act is aiding in the purchase of Chromebooks, webcams, licensing for remote learning technology, as well as PPE and disinfecting supplies.

Ptacek says continued planning ahead financially during good years means the deficit won’t result in a drastic reduction in services.

That’s the reason why we’ve been putting money on good years into that rainy day kind of fund mentality understanding that whether it was a big major need for a physical facility or something like this with the state’s budget crunch, we’re prepared.

So we can talk about losing three million dollars this year and still not talk about having any cuts, and that’s what I think the community needs to know. We are financially prepared for a rainy day, and it’s pouring right now.”

Hadjen says she will continue working on the tentative budget, which will be presented to the public during the District’s budget hearing on Wednesday, September 30th at 5:30 pm in the District Office Board Room on West State Street.