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Article updated: 8/10/2012 12:00 AM

District 214 approves tentative budget

By Melissa Silverberg

Northwest Suburban High School District 214 approved a tentative budget for 2012-13 at Thursday's school board meeting and set the date for a public hearing on the issue.

District 214 has won awards over the years for the budget process and again presented a balanced budget Thursday, Superintendent David Schuler said.

The total operating and working cash budget approved Monday was $232.45 million, up slightly from the $230 million 2011-12 budget

The largest expenditure for the district will be employee salaries and benefits, which make up about 78 percent of the budget, up slightly from last year.

Other large expenses include a budgeted $10 million of work that will be done on the sound insulation project at Elk Grove High School this year.

Although the district has to pay for the sound abatement project up front, it will be reimbursed for a majority of the $15 million project through federal and state grants.

Similar to the previous year's budget, property taxes will make up about 81 percent of revenue, with other sources coming from corporate taxes and state and federal aid.

With Cook county tax bills going out on time for the first time in decades, officials said they are actually already receiving revenue that was usually not accounted for until much later in the year.

"As usual, we're conservative with our revenues," Schuler said.

He added that over each of the past five years, each school in the district has been asked to present the next year's budget at 98 percent of what was spent the previous year, a cost containment structure he said has kept the district in good financial health while many other districts have struggled.

The 2012-13 budget does not include any major program cuts or staff reductions because of that plan, he said.

"In every business you run, there's always operational efficiencies that can be had, and we've done a nice job of looking at those every year," school board President Jim Perkins said.

The tentative budget will now be on display from Aug. 15 to Sept. 20. The school board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 and take a vote to approve the budget after that hearing

District 214 is the second-largest high school district in the state and serves more than 12,000 students from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Elk Grove, Mt. Prospect, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows and Wheeling.

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