Lyons Township High School District 204 Board of Education approved a budget for this fiscal year that projects roughly a $600,000 surplus.
The budget forecasts revenues of $97.1 million and expenses of $96.5 million. At least 94% of the district’s revenues comes from local sources, primarily from property taxes, and 58% of the district’s expenses goes to pay salaries. Another 13% goes toward employee benefits.
The driver of the surplus is the 5% increase to the tax levy and the continued increase in the corporate personal property replacement tax, according to Director of Business Services Brian Stachacz.
Because LT operates on the accrual method of accounting and the auditing of the past year’s finances is not complete, Stachacz said that he does not yet have the final results on spending in the 2023 fiscal year. He said that the budget will have to be amended after the final costs of facilities improvements scheduled for the summer of 2024 are known.
“We will have a surplus, but how much yet is what we’re still working on,” Stachacz told the Landmark.
Total salaries are expected to increase by 6.2% this year and the costs of employee benefits, mostly health insurance, are expected to increase by 10.6%. LTHS expects to spend $650,000 more on health insurance this year compared with the last fiscal year.
Purchased services are expected to increase by 18%, or $2 million, over last year, driven largely by an increase in bus transportation costs. The cost of supplies is projected to increase by 8.3%.
Capital expenditures to pay for building renovations are budgeted at $4.4 million, a figure that includes $2.4 million to pay for projects done last summer.
The school board also approved selling up to $27 million in working cash bonds. That borrowing will replace debt that has been paid off and will be used to fund extensive building improvements at both of LT’s campuses. A new cafeteria and new music wing are planned for South Campus.
Stachacz said that he expects the district will issue about $26.5 million in new working cash bonds.
Last week, school officials also met with officials at Standard & Poor’s to give information about the school’s finances and the bond offering. School officials are hoping to maintain LT’s Triple A bond rating. The bonds will be sold later this year.
The school board also voted to join a class action lawsuit against social media companies. About 335 school districts, including Riverside Brookfield High School District 208, Riverside Elementary School District 96 and Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200, have joined the class action suit filed by a California law firm.
The lawsuit claims that the actions of various social media companies, including Facebook and TikTok, have harmed students and recklessly marketed to minors. The suit claims that the problems created by social media have led to increased spending by school districts as schools seek to mitigate the harms caused by social media.
Joining the lawsuit requires no out-of-pocket expenditures by LTHS. The plaintiffs’ attorneys will receive a percentage of the judgement or settlement they get from the social media companies.