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posted: 8/15/2013 5:30 AM

District 15 finances better than expected

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Palatine Township Elementary District 15 will enter the new school year with a more optimistic financial outlook than previously thought.

The tentative $153.7 million budget calls for spending to exceed revenue by about $3.2 million, which is less than half the deficit Assistant Superintendent Mike Adamczyk projected in May.

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Given that the board approved doubling its spending on capital projects from $3 million to $6 million this year, Adamczyk said. "We'd have what I'd call a balanced budget."

Adamczyk attributed the change largely to the state, which he said "found" additional funds to maintain the General State Aid proration at 89 percent as opposed to the 80 percent level he assumed in May. That saved about $950,000 for the district.

District 15's poverty rate has risen to 43 percent from just under 38 percent last year, which will bring in more money, as well.

The state also kept its regular and vocational education funding flat instead of reducing it as many officials expected, resulting in an additional $2.1 million in revenue.

Adamczyk said there still could be modifications to the budget before it's formally approved at a special meeting Sept. 25 based on enrollment and staffing changes and the outcome of contract negotiations with the district's support personnel union. However, he expects them to be minor.

Board member David Seiffert expressed some reservations that the budget is lowballing the amount of property tax revenue the district will lose out on due to homeowner and commercial appeals. But Adamczyk said he's estimating about $3.7 million, a significant increase from the past two years.

Board member Scott Herr also asked whether the $400,000 saved in the district's lease with Apple for 3,000 iPad tablets would be returned to the coffers, but Adamczyk said the money will remain allocated for possible technology purchases.

Board President Peggy Babcock was pleased with the budget, especially when compared to the one presented three months ago.

"Much better than May," she said.

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