District 34’s Financial Position is Healthy, Potential Challenges Ahead

Glenview District 34 continues to reflect a picture of strong fiscal responsibility, according to several key updates presented to the Board of Education on Monday. However, next year’s tentative budget shows the need for continued expense control efforts.
 
Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Eric Miller and Richard Kreutzfeldt, a representative from the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee (CFAC), shared their latest report that analyzed the financial health of District 34.
 
“It was critical that we conduct this historical review of our finances, which, by all accounts, reflects our continuing commitment to being responsible stewards of the community’s resources in ways that best support ongoing student achievement,” Miller said.
 
Utilizing 15 key ratios such as fund balance, operating expense per pupil, and debt service, all measurements demonstrated the district is operating in a financially sound manner when compared to similar districts, Kreutzfeldt and Miller said.
 
More specifically, the district’s fund balance sits at the median level compared to similar districts. Kreutzfeldt noted this comparison suggests the District’s current fund balances are not excessive in comparison to others, but would, if necessary, enable District 34 to absorb potential legislative impacts without having to cut into programming. It also prevents the district from having to short-term borrow in times when the state is behind on its categorical payments.
 
CFAC’s report further concluded that when analyzed against comparable districts, District 34’s tax rate remains among the lowest, as does spending per student. The CFAC analysis also indicated that there was no correlation between this well below-average spending per pupil and overall academic achievement -- as indicated by district-wide PARCC test scores --when compared to the spending levels and test results for the other examined districts.   

“This is truly a testament to our teaching staff and administrators, and their ongoing work to strengthen our standards-based curriculum and teaching practices. It is because of their instructional effectiveness that we are able to see continued academic improvements,” said Interim Superintendent Griff Powell.
 
In addition to CFAC’s report, Miller also shared with Board members the year-end budget projection, which may conclude with a modest operating surplus of approximately $241,000, assuming the state makes all of its required revenue contributions.
 
“We hope to end the year with a responsible outcome that was partially the result of the district taking a hard look at its finances and finding areas in which we could tighten our spending or better align with our district priorities,” he said. “As we continue to refine the budget for 2018, we will apply these experiences to hopefully capture additional financial savings.”
 
The tentative 2018 budget was also presented and projected $67.1 million in operating revenues and $69.4 million in operating expenditures. This means the district could potentially experience a $2.3 million deficit in the operating budget by end of fiscal year 2018. Miller anticipates providing a refined budget prior to Board approval in the fall.
 
“The administration continues to have important discussions about our overall budgeting process with the goal to minimize future deficits,” Powell said. “As we heard earlier this evening, our financial health is strong, and is it important that this is maintained.”