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updated: 10/26/2012 9:46 PM

Dist. 15's long-term financial outlook has improved

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Tim Waldorf

Community Consolidated School District 15's recently revised five-year financial forecast indicates its economic outlook is now trending in the right direction.

The updated projections indicate the District should expect to run small deficits for the next four years, but then end the 2016-17 fiscal year with a nearly $2 million surplus. That surplus would return the District's fund balance to $53.8 million, or approximately 35 percent of its annual expenditure budget. The District ended the 2011-12 school year with a $55.5 million fund balance, which equated to roughly 39.5 percent of its expenditures. The District 15 Board of Education has set a fund balance target of 30 percent of the District's expenditures.

The updated projections account for savings related to recently implemented changes to employees' health insurance plans and to the new two-tier salary schedule for teachers. They also account for savings related to ongoing reductions through attrition of the total number of general education program assistants in the District.

Those savings allowed the District to restore approximately $2.1 million of the roughly $6.1 million in reductions to this year's budget that the Board approved last spring. They prevented the District from reducing any teaching positions, and they allowed it to maintain its current class size ratios.

In the long-term, they appear to reverse a structural deficit problem that threatened to consume the District's fund balance.

Despite the improved economic outlook, the District still needs to be fiscally responsible and keep an eye on spending. The ultimate outcome of what happens with pension reform, as well as the state's precarious fiscal condition and its ability to honor its commitment to public education, still have the potential to negatively affect the District in the future.

-Story Submitted by Community Consolidated School District 15