The Riverside School District 96 board voted at their June 19 meeting to accept a tentative budget for the 2007-08 school year, with estimates showing an overall fund balance of more than $8 million.

Superintendent Jonathan Lamberson said at the meeting that total expenditures for next year are expected to increase about $2 million for the next school year, from $13.6 million to $15.4 million. He said this was partially due to added teaching positions at Hauser Junior High and Ames School.

The district added positions at Hauser to accommodate the school’s recent switch to a middle school curriculum, while increasing enrollment required the addition of extra class sections at Ames School.

Lamberson said the district’s technology budget for next year had also been increased, to about $300,000 from the usual $250,000. The money will go to replace older computer equipment, an expense Lamberson suggested was much needed in some areas.

“About 40 percent of our equipment is five or more years old,” he said.

The total expenditures are more than offset, however, by the $17.9 million in estimated revenues for the next school year, up from last year’s $16.2 million. This gives the district a $2.5 million surplus. Added to surpluses from previous years, the district’s overall fund balance is estimated at $8.5 million.

Lamberson credited the board for the district’s comfortable financial position.

“The financial situation of the district is excellent. That’s certainly related to the referendum and the community, but it’s also related to what you do around this table,” he said, addressing the board, and referencing a 2004 referendum to increase the district’s tax levy.

“You are always trying to give students the best possible education, but you also act as fiscal stewards. You recognize the value of each dollar, and we’re seeing the benefit of that.”

One of those benefits, Lamberson added, is the district’s ability to afford necessary life safety updates without seeking another referendum. A recent district life safety survey estimated the cost of these projects-which include updating fire alarm systems, installing fire doors, and similar renovations-at $1.5 million.

Lamberson said the district had increased the buildings fund this year to begin tackling some of these projects, and would continue those efforts over the next few years.