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posted: 8/17/2012 12:13 PM

Dist. 211 presents balanced budget

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The Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 is eyeing a tentative $272.6 million budget for the 2012-13 school year.

The tentative budget -- on display at the district administration center, in local libraries and on d211.org -- is up about 8 percent from the 2011-12 budget. It includes an increase in the debt reduction, along with life safety projects and capital projects.

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Associate superintendent for business David Torres said the budget is balanced, with a $3.8 million surplus in the balance of the district's four main funds. Overall, there is a projected $12.9 million in excess revenue over expenditures.

"Our operating budgets are balanced, our fund balances are healthy and a planned levy reduction in debt service represent a very positive fiscal trend in District 211," superintendent Nancy Robb said.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 27, at the district administration center, 1750 Roselle Road in Palatine, prior to that night's school board meeting.

The biggest revenue source in the budget is property taxes, which are expected to bring in about $201.9 million, up by about 0.8 percent from last year.

The largest expense is salaries and benefits, which combined account for around 78 percent, or about $184 million, of budgeted expenditures. That is a 1.7 percent increase from last year.

Other expenses include two big operations and maintenance projects -- the upgrade of the districtwide phone system and the renovation of the Palatine High School kitchen and cafe -- that will cost about $2.3 million total.

The district has also continued to work on life safety projects, such as replacing doors at Schaumburg High School this summer, which are estimated to cost about $26 million over seven years.

Any life safety work that has already been done was paid for with reserves, which will be reimbursed with bond money.

Torres said the life safety projects are separate from operations and maintenance projects, as they have been mandated by the state and will be paid for through bonds that will be issued in two phases -- the first of which will likely occur this fall and be for about $16 million.

As far as savings, Torres said the district has identified $1 million in staffing efficiencies created mainly by not filling every position left vacant by retirees or other staff members who leave. Other staffing efficiencies occurred when Hoffman Estates High School went to a modified block schedule.

The district has found ways to save with printing costs and energy savings too, he said, and about $4 million of budget reductions in various categories, including technology, capital outlay and supplies, have been maintained from fiscal year 2011.

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