The Riverside School District 96 Board of Trustees approved a tentative budget for the 2006-07 fiscal year at its June 20 meeting, projecting an overall fund balance of more than $5.8 million.

“I’m really pleased about the fiscal situation we are in,” Superintendent Jonathan Lamberson said. “We’ve allowed ourselves room to start up programs and make sure they can continue for kids. Many districts would be thrilled to have this.”

Estimated expenses will increase somewhat next year, from about $13 million to $13.6 million. Lamberson explained this was due to increases in health care costs and other services, as well as additions to the district staff. These additions include new directors for both the special education and technology programs, as well as various new teaching positions for the music and reading programs in the district.

However, those increased costs are more than outweighed by the projected increases in revenue, which Lamberson predicts will go up from $14 million to $16 million for next year. Although state aid is expected to increase somewhat, most of these added funds will come from local taxes. District 96 passed a successful property tax referendum in 2004, which averted a threatened school closure and teacher layoffs.

Estimated revenues for next year are expected to exceed expenses by approximately $2.4 million. This will be added to the district’s existing general operating fund balance of about $3.4 million, leaving the district more than $5.8 million in the black after next year.

The tentative budget will be available for public inspection until Sept. 19, when the board will hold a public budget hearing and vote to adopt the final document.

?”Jessica Glowinski