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posted: 10/14/2010 12:01 AM

Dist. 15 financial outlook suddenly brighter?

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With the days winding down until voters decide whether to authorize Palatine Township Elementary District 15's proposal to borrow up to $27 million, taxpayers Wednesday got a glimpse into the district's latest financial outlook.

To the confusion and dismay of some, the five-year projection painted a much rosier picture than similar presentations over the past several months.

"It just doesn't give me a lot of confidence we have any idea what we're facing in the future, board member Sue Quinn said.

New figures presented by Assistant Superintendent Michael Adamczyk show District 15's reserve fund balance declining only slightly from $55.5 million last year to $47.9 million in the 2014-15 school year. Past projections showed the fund with millions less.

Adamczyk said the discrepancy is due in part to a recent financial audit, which showed revenue exceeded actual expenses by $6.87 million for all 2009-10 funds, not the $132,304 that had been included in the budget.

The 2009-10 audited budget also assumes the state will eventually honor its outstanding $4.3 million commitment owed to District 15.

But board member Tim Millar said he didn't like some of the assumptions being used in the budget, including no salary increases for teachers for three years.

The five-year projection is "just hard to believe, given two months ago it was exponentially different, he said.

The budget forecast was also a hot topic earlier in the day at a Schaumburg Culver's restaurant, where Adamczyk and interim Superintendent Scott Thompson met with about 20 residents.

The Plum Grove Junior High PTA hosted the event, which started out as a presentation on Thompson's recommendation to the board should voters next month approve District 15's proposed bond issue.

It evolved into a discussion in which Thompson took a beating on behalf of the district at times; however, those present said they supported his vision and appreciated his willingness to participate in a dialogue.

Thompson, who took over in July, spoke to the importance of having consistency in the top financial administrator's position, something that's eluded District 15 in recent years. Adamczyk took over for an interim assistant superintendent just a few months ago.

Some in the group, which included a few of the chief organizers behind the petition that forced the $27 million bond issue to a referendum, blamed board members and past administrators for District 15's current deficit spending.

They said one-year pay freezes for teachers should have been considered when negotiating last year's contract, and they don't want to see their taxes go up in this economy as a result of the bond issue.

The group also talked about the possibility of using reserves to fund the capital improvement projects in place of borrowing more money.