Article: District 303 School Board approves $168 million budget

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Sept. 15, 2009

ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles District 303 School Board on Monday approved a $168.6 million budget – a $7.1 million increase from last year’s budget of $161.5 million – but maintained a balanced budget by cutting about $1.8 million from the original spring projections, officials said.

The board voted unanimously to approve the budget, with the exception of Steven Spurling, who was not in attendance.

Expenses and revenue increased from last year’s budget as revenue grew from last year’s $164.5 million in revenue to match this year’s expenses. The school district expects to have a surplus of $27,676 at the end of the fiscal year.

Chief Financial Officer Brad Cauffman said that much of the increase in expenses is because of salaries – primarily because of raises – and employee benefits – primarily because of health insurance costs. Salaries rose $2.6 million this fiscal year to $90.6 million and employee benefits rose $3.1 million to $22.5 million.

Officials said the district had to cut $1.8 million from the projected budget this spring to balance it – an original $780,000 and an extra $1 million after projected state revenues came in less than expected.

And officials already are looking at more of the same next year, Cauffman said, when the budget deficit is expected to be more than $5 million.

Cauffman said the district is well on its way toward finding the extra millions, though, with a mixture of stimulus funds and cost reductions.

Jim Blaney, the director of school and community relations for the district, said the district looks five years out when planning the budget.

“We’re not just going year to year,” Blaney said. “We don’t want to get caught by surprise.”

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