The projected budget deficit at Riverside-Brookfield High School for fiscal year 2018 has shrunk by about $250,000, and the deficit could possibly disappear entirely by the end of the year, says District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis.

At the Aug. 8 meeting of the District 208 Board of Education, Skinkis and Chief Financial Officer Scott Beranek outlined changes that reduced the projected budget deficit to $344,285 from the $590,367 that was presented in the first budget outline in July.

School officials now believe that, based on last year’s results, they can safely budget at least $100,000 less for property tax refunds. They also believe that they could save an additional $60,000 now budgeted for property tax appeals, depending on how tax appeal cases turn out. Beranek also outlined a series of other changes in the budget that will increase projected revenue and reduce projected expenses.

The amount of state aid that the district will receive is still uncertain as administrators wait for the Democratic-controlled state legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to agree on a new state funding formula for state aid to local school districts.

In their latest projected budget, RBHS officials have budgeted $1.3 million in state aid, 90 percent of the state aid it received last year. If the politicians in Springfield can enact a state funding formula, District 208, under both Democratic and Republican plans, should receive at least the $1.44 million in state aid that the district received last year, which would whittle the projected deficit down to about $200,000. 

District 208 was supposed to receive its first state aid check for fiscal 2018 in early August, but checks from the state are being held up until a new state funding formula becomes law.

Skinkis told the school board that District 208 follows very conservative budgeting practices.

“There are some moving parts,” Skinkis said of the projected $344,000 deficit. “I’m trying to show you the worst-case scenario.”

The last time RBHS ran an operating deficit was in 2011, when the final deficit came in at just over $1 million. Skinkis has prided himself on never presiding over a budget deficit since he came to District 208 six years ago.

In 2016-17 officials projected a surplus of a little less than $11,000, but ended up with a surplus of about $385,000.

Skinkis said that when the final numbers come in at the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year he believes the district will end up within $100,000 of being balanced, and he didn’t rule out ending the school year with a slight surplus.

“If all comes to fruition we should be close to a balanced budget,” Skinkis said. 

The budget is scheduled to be approved at the Sept. 12 board meeting.