District 67 Schools Face Financial Crunch
Golf Middle School, Hynes Elementary consider 2012 referendum to avoid deficit, more cuts.
The already financially strapped Golf School District 67 faces even leaner times ahead.
At a Wednesday meeting of the district’s finance/facilities committee, school board members deliberated over a grim economic picture painted by the district’s bond consultant, Elizabeth Hennessy, principal of William Blair & Co.
The district is expected to have a $174,000 operating deficit in the fiscal year for 2011.
If no changes are made, the fund balance deficits will continue to increase over the next five years: in 2012 the deficit would stand at $230,000, then would more than double to $511,000 in 2013. By 2017 the annual deficit would tally about $1.3 million.
“The projections are used to keep districts from going down the deficit path,” Hennessy reminded board members, after apologizing for being the bearer of bad tidings. “Now is the time to start planning how to meet future need."
To avoid the deficit, Hennessy said, District 67 has two options: make further cuts from its already trimmed-to-the-bone budget, or ask Morton Grove voters to approve a tax referendum in March 2012.
The referendum option
Hennessy gave two proposals for referendums. The first proposal would keep staffing at current levels—which, at 75 faculty and staff members, is barely adequate for the 580-student population. If the referendum passes, it would increase Morton Grove taxes by about $214 per year, based on a home valued at $250,000.
The second proposal would permit the much-needed hiring of 2 1/2 additional full-time employees, she said. Opting for this choice would increase Morton Grove taxes by about $265 per year, based on a home valued at $250,000.
District 67's financial history
Despite the current situation, Golf District 67 has a long history of fiscal responsibility, according to Supt. Jamie Reilly.
“Our district is one of the few school districts in Niles Township that hasn’t sought a referendum since the 1960s,” Reilly said. “Because of the way Illinois funds for school districts operate, we are very dependent on property taxes. And tax caps have presented challenges for all districts.
“Over the past few years the district has decreased staffing in an effort to meet its financial challenges. Included in those staff reductions were a guidance counselor, a librarian and a reading specialist.”
The District 67 board will continue to refine the projections and discuss expenditure reduction and revenue enhancement options.
“The earliest that the board would make a determination about its referendum options would be this spring, but more likely it will be this fall,” Reilly said.
The next Golf School District 67 Board of Education meeting will be Thursday.