The Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 Board of Education approved a tentative budget for the upcoming school year at their meeting Aug. 11, falling comfortably within the $600,000 deficit limit they had set for themselves.
According to the budget submitted to the board by Superintendent Dr. Douglas Rudig, the district’s expenditures will outpace revenues by $565,000 next year. The shortfall will be covered with cash from a $3.6-million working cash bond issue the district took out in 2004 to cover such deficits over the next five years.
Previous versions of the budget estimated deficits above the $600,000 limit, but Rudig had said these drafts had used rough revenue and expense estimates. When the fiscal year ended June 30, he was able to calculate more accurate numbers and lower the overall deficit.
Balancing the budget this year has not come without cuts, however. According to the budget proposal, expenses for administrative travel and conferences, standardized testing, building repairs, reading materials and other areas were reduced. Rudig has said, however, that none of the proposed cuts would significantly affected the district’s academic programs.
The board approved the budget unanimously, but some members expressed reservations about using bonds to cover the district’s deficits on a long-term basis. There was continued discussion about the possibility of going out for a referendum in the near future to cover costs.
The district proposed a referendum in April, but it was rejected by voters. Since then, the board has sought different options to help balance the budget.
Board member Thomas Powers, who is also a member of the board’s Finance Committee, said that while he was concerned about the district’s current situation, he was confident the board would be able to find a solution to it soon. Until then, he said the bonds would allow them to maintain the status quo in the district.
“Even though it makes me personally uncomfortable, and it makes the finance committee uncomfortable, to continue financing the education fund through borrowed money, we have the ability to do that,” he said. “I think we have the ability to concentrate and really figure out what we want to do without being rushed into something.”
The proposed budget will be put on public display for the next 30 days, and a final version will be voted on by the school board at their Sept. 22 meeting.