A brighter fiscal 2019 for DeKalb School District 428 solidified Tuesday as board members learned the district is confirmed to receive an additional $2.8 million in funding. That means the district will operate with about a $2.4 million surplus.
Board members unanimously approved the tentative budget, which is scheduled for final adoption Sept. 18. Board member Valerie Pena-Hernandez was absent.
At a board workshop meeting Tuesday, Cynthia Carpenter, director of business and finance, said she learned only hours earlier from the state about the confirmation of the $2.8 million.
About $2 million in revenue is new money from the state because of a newly implemented school funding formula. The additional $2.8 million now becomes a new funding base for future years.
The district has projected more than $95 million in revenue and about $93 million in expenses. Most of the budget is made up by the education fund, which pays for most day-to-day costs, including salaries and education materials. District salaries, at nearly $46 million, comprise about half the budget.
Carpenter also said the backlog of funds from the state is less severe. As of Aug. 1, funds awaiting processing by the Illinois comptroller for the fiscal 2018 total $1.35 million. On Aug. 1, 2017, that amount was $3.83 million. However, last year the district didn’t receive all of its funding until January.
The board, Carpenter and Superintendent Jamie Craven agreed that although the state has provided little direction thus far as to how the new money is to be used, direction will be forthcoming.
“That $2.8 [million] is not going to be unrestricted,” Craven said. “It’s coming. There’s going to be a spending plan that we have to submit to the state to show … at some point, [the state] will come back and ask, ‘How are you applying your resources toward this model school?’ ”
The “model school” to which Craven referred is a hypothetical model school used in the new funding formula.
The budget hinges on several unknowns, including potential property tax freezes, whether the burden of pension contributions could be shifted from the state to school districts, and state funding.
Property tax freezes, Carpenter said, “have been talked about for the past few years. Right now, in an election year, things are kind of quiet,” she said.
Still, the news is good.
“It’s nice,” Carpenter said. “It’s very nice, actually.”
Board member Jeff Hallgren asked for clarification of what happens to surplus funds. Carpenter said additional monies are conservatively invested and can be tapped for unforeseen expenditures.
Also Tuesday, the board recognized Jose Jaques, retiring school resource officer. Jacques has been a school resource officer for District 428 for 12 years. He also is a longtime DeKalb police officer and is a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois National Guard.
From District 428, Jaques heads to the Kishwaukee Education Consortium, where he will teach high school students about careers in law enforcement.
His successor is Chris Sullivan, whom the board welcomed Tuesday. Sullivan is a DeKalb native and longtime DeKalb police officer.