Thanks to generous federal aid as result of pandemic relief, Riverside-Brookfield High School finished the 2020-21 fiscal year with an operating budget surplus of $1,203,864. That’s far different than the $1.6 million operating deficit forecast when the budget was approved in September 2020.

RBHS received about $1.7 million in federal grants and aid during the fiscal year, which ended on June 30, as a result of pandemic relief packages. Much of that aid was approved after the budget had been adopted.

“Had those grants come out two months earlier we would have been able to include them in the budget,” Associate Superintendent Kristin Smetana said.

RBHS received $760,000 in federal money for foodservice reimbursement to provide lunches throughout the last school year, $500,000 in federal grants to fight COVID-19 and promote digital equity and $410,000 in additional reimbursements for special education expenses from the federal government.

Property tax revenue came in $146,000 over projections and the school collected $189,657 more than expected from the corporate personal property replacement tax. The school also collected $101,000 more in student fees than was projected, with about half of that coming from athletic pay-to-play fees.

RBHS also got a boost of $80,000 in state aid and earned $47,666 more in interest than had been projected. The district also received an $18,621 rebate for meeting all three wellness tiers in its health insurance program.

Expenses were slightly less than forecast, with the school spending only 98.2 percent of budgeted expenses. The district saved on lower utility costs during the time students were not in building last year as well as the unexpected retirement of two veteran teachers last summer.

When one-time expenses such as capital projects, life-safety improvements and debt service are included in the budget, the surplus for the 2020-21 fiscal year fell to $735,419 due to $772,164 being spent on life-safety upgrades.

The fiscal 2021-22 budget is not yet completed, but right now the district is forecasting a surplus of $355,204 for the upcoming year.

“I do think that the surplus will be slightly bigger when we’re all said and done,” Smetana said.

Last year Smetana forecast only a 97-percent collection rate for property tax revenue because of concerns about financial hardships some taxpayers would face as a result of the pandemic. For the upcoming year, Smetana is projecting a 99 percent property tax collection rate.

It is common for RBHS to overestimate expenditures and underestimate revenues in budgets, which typically makes the final results turn out better than projected.