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posted: 6/11/2013 12:01 AM

Geneva schools consider increase in education fund spending

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The Geneva school district is tentatively proposing to spend $58.26 million in its education fund in the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2.89 percent more than it plans to spend this year.

Board member Bill Wilson, however, has asked the assistant superintendent for business services to consider a few trims, to meet a goal of keeping the increase at 2 percent or less.

"I'm just trying to see where we can help out," Wilson said.

One area he suggested looking at was the money allocated to building principals. Assistant superintendent Donna Oberg had budgeted a $5-per-student increase, the first in four years. The money is used for consumable supplies such as copy paper and other office products; art, music, science and consumer education supplies; and nursing services. The district cut the principals' budgets by 16 to 22 percent for the 2008-09 fiscal year, another 18 to 29 percent the next year, and held it steady the past two years. Elementary schools receive $125 per student; the middle schools, $150; and the high school, $238.

Committee member Kelly Nowak, while favoring the goal, said teachers "are really starting to feel the pressure" from the reduced building budgets, and that she would prefer to find the savings in a bigger-ticket item instead.

The budget does not account for extra pension payments if the state starts requiring school districts to contribute more, under pension reform. Oberg estimates that paying another .5 percent would cost Geneva schools about $175,000 in the new fiscal year.

Oberg noted that lunch revenue continued to decline this year, and that registration and extracurricular fees are down. She attributes it to the struggling economy.

"I think a lot of kids are brown-bagging it," she said, and that there are also more students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. If they are so eligible, then their school and sports fees are reduced or waived also.

Twelve certified workers are retiring; their replacements will cost about half as much.

The fund budget calls for spending $38.67 million on salaries. That does not include pay for bus drivers and operations and maintenance workers. Those salaries come out of the transportation and operations-and-maintenance funds.

Projections of actual revenues and expenditures for this year were not available.

School district's fiscal years start June 1, but they have until the end of September to file a budget with the state. Last year, the board adopted the budget on Sept. 24.

The education fund is the biggest slice of the district's budget, accounting for about 59 percent of its spending in the current budget. The next biggest is the debt-service fund, at about 17 percent.

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