Most area elementary school districts approved their budgets last month with projections of small surpluses. But one local district, Riverside Elementary District 96, is projecting a large operating surplus of nearly $1.6 million for the 2019-20 fiscal year. 

However, the budget the District 96 school adopted on Sept. 18 doesn’t account for any spending the district is likely to do for a significant addition to Ames School, planned for next summer, and smaller expansions or modifications at the district’s other three elementary schools.

Most of that spending will likely will take place in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

This will be the second consecutive year that District 96 will run a large operating surplus. The district finished the 2018-19 fiscal year with an operating surplus of a little more than $2.2 million, far more than the anticipated surplus of $800,000, according to the unaudited financial results presented to the school board last month by District 96 Director of Finance and Operations James Fitton. 

In his report, Fitton said the much larger-than-anticipated surplus was the result of the district receiving more property tax revenue than had been anticipated and spending less than what was budgeted for salaries, benefits and capital repairs.

The surplus boosted District 96’s cash reserves to about $32.8 million, which exceeds the district’s anticipated operating expenditures of $27.2 million and is well in excess of the district’s policy to have cash reserves of at least 40 percent of operating expenditures.

A significant portion of the cash reserves are likely to be used to fund the Ames School expansion and the work on other elementary schools next year.

In 2019-20, District 96 is projecting operating revenues of about $28.8 million and operating expenditures of about $27.1 million. Eighty-six percent of the district’s revenue comes from local property taxes. The teaching staff in District 96 was reduced by one position this year due to slightly lower enrollment.


Other school districts see surpluses

Brookfield-LaGrange Park Elementary District 95 expects to finish the present fiscal year with a surplus of about $100,000, because it will get about $200,000 more in state aid than originally anticipated, said District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski. Unlike most districts, District 95 approved its budget in June.

Komarek School District 94’s budget calls for an operating surplus of about $170,000, while LaGrange-Brookfield District 102 projects an operating budget surplus of $144,470 for the 2019-20 fiscal year. 

Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 is the only local school district to not pass a budget by the state deadline of Sept. 30. The district did not post a required notice for a public hearing on the budget in time, forcing the approval date to be postponed. 

The District 103 school board will hold its public hearing and vote on its budget at a special meeting on Oct. 25.