Glenbrook High School District 225 officials passed a tentative budget for the 2014-2015 school year, predicting an estimated surplus of $700,000.
Expenses are projected to jump by $5.3 million, or 5 percent, to $109.8 million in the upcoming year from $104.5 million in 2013-2014. Revenues are expected to increase by $1 million, or 1 percent, to $110.6 million in the new budget from $109.5 million in the previous year.
Increasing enrollment in the district is driving up spending while the Consumer Price Index, an indicator of inflation that is expected to be 1.7 percent, is the primary reason for the increase in revenues, said Hillarie Siena, assistant superintendent of business for District 225.
Salaries and employee benefits are expected to go up by about $3.7 million, or 4.5 percent, next year, officials said. Of that increase, about $1 million would be spent on new staff as the district expects Glenbrook South High School's student body to grow by about 200 students in the upcoming year.
Siena said the $700,000 surplus is mainly a place holder for now because the district is still in the process of hiring additional staff for the 2014-2015 year.
"I felt it prudent to include the contingencies in this tentative budget and show it as a budgeted surplus," Siena said at a board meeting on July 28. "When everyone is hired and everyone is in place and we see what the true need is, I'm confident that budgeted surplus will come down."
The district's fund balance, or the reserve, is expected to be at about 67 percent of the operating budget next year and is expected to decline to about 39 percent by 2019. The district's goal is to keep its reserve at 33 percent.
Previously district officials predicted the fund balance to decline more steeply, diminishing to 18 percent by 2018.
"It's a good look at what things would look like over time if everything stays the same as it is right now," Siena said about the new projections, adding that the new numbers account for the expected increased enrollment.
Siena said that going forward officials would continue to discuss what's an appropriate level of reserves to have. She added that all capital improvement projects would be "pay as you go" from now on because funds provided from bonds released by the 2006 referendum-approved tax hike ran out last year.
"Maintaining strong fund balances is a key financial strategy for our district as we face uncertainties such as increasing student enrollment and potential decreases in state and federal funding," said Board President Skip Shein in a press release. "By doing so, we greatly enhance our ability to remain fiscally stable as an organization."
The budget is going to be discussed again at a public hearing on Sept. 8.
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