State Education Cuts Won't Hurt Glenview Schools
While school districts across the state lay off teachers and cut programs, Glenview public school funding remains secure.
While schools around the state are laying off teachers and cutting programs to make up for recession-driven tax shortfalls, both major public school districts in Glenview recently passed budgets with small projected surpluses and healthy reserves.
"We won't have cuts in personnel or anything that impacts our students," said District 34 Superintendent Gerald Hill.
"At a time when many school districts are struggling, District 225 has maintained its financial stability through the support of our communities and the implementation of proactive cost-reduction strategies," said Board of Education President Skip Shein.
It's a case of no news is good news, but also a function of how little Glenview schools rely on volatile state funding for support. Just 4 percent of District 225's budget and 6 percent of District 34's comes from Springfield. The rest is local support – primarily property taxes.
By contrast, the average Illinois public school gets 28 percent of its budget from the state, and a $341 million projected shortfall in the governor's budget has led to reported cuts of up to 25 percent of teachers in some districts, deep curriculum cuts and the slashing of after-school programs.
Meanwhile, the public middle schools in Glenview are flush enough to offer a full complement of band and music programs plus sports (some fee-supported) such as basketball, volleyball, tennis and golf.
Karen Geddeis, spokeswoman for the high schools, said District 225's ability to rely on stable property taxes has helped keep them fiscally healthy, along with an infusion of $94 million from a referendum passed by voters in 1996.
The last $10 million of those funds were recently earmarked by the board for capital improvement projects.
Both boards credited sound fiscal management for the districts' ability to run surpluses at a time of severe deficits elsewhere. District 225's board said it pre-emptively cut $850,000 in spending from the upcoming budget and projects another $1 million in cuts from the 2011-12 budget.
But it's also true that the districts just have more money to begin with. Healthy property tax receipts in an affluent community insulate the schools from the shifting winds of state support.
According to the most recent data from the Interactive Illinois Report Card, the average per pupil funding in District 225 was $18,684 as compared with $10,417 statewide. In District 34 it was $12,220. More than 83 percent of District 34's funding and 88 percent of District 225's funding came from local property taxes as compared with just 59 percent statewide.
Both districts recently adopted 2010-11 budgets with a projected $63,000 surplus at the high schools and a $30,000 buffer in District 34, which includes three primary, three intermediate and two middle schools.
District 225 also holds $59.2 million in reserve, or 61.5 percent of projected expenditures. That's almost twice the 33 percent minimum reserved established by Board of Education policy. District 34 also has a healthy 55 percent reserve, but Hill said school projections show that reserve will fall below the board mandated 30 percent by the 2013-14 school year unless changes are made proactively.
Hill plans to form a "budget realignment" committee of teachers, administrators, parents and community members to make recommendations either for identifying cuts or raising revenue.
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