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posted: 9/26/2013 12:01 AM

Fox River Grove schools budget for 2014 shows slight deficit

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Fox River Grove School District 3 this week approved an $8.6 million budget for expenditures for the 2013-14 academic year, which includes a slight deficit.

The district's operating budget this year is about $7.5 million, with an additional $1.1 million set aside for Teachers' Retirement System contributions.

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The $433,504 estimated deficit this year is largely due to a planned roof project costing $353,000. Without the project, the deficit is less than 1 percent.

"If you remove capital improvements, it's in essence a balanced budget," Superintendent Tim Mahaffy said Wednesday. "In the worst-case scenario, we will still have a fund balance of $5 million at the end of fiscal year 2014."

Mahaffy said the district has tried to maintain healthy fund balances since its last referendum in 2004, which got it out of academic "early warning status."

"At that time, we told our taxpayers that we wouldn't come to them for at least five years (and) we haven't come to them yet," he said.

This school year is also the first year of a three-year teacher's contract, which includes 3 percent raises. Noncertified staff wages also increased by 3 percent this year.

"There's no step increases on top of the 3 percent," Mahaffy said.

The district eliminated the salary schedule four years ago. This is the second teacher's contract without one, which has worked out well for both sides, he said.

"It's the working relationship that we have with our staff," he added.

The capital improvements involve repairing half of the roof at Algonquin Road Elementary School -- the other half was done three years ago through an energy savings grant -- and four roof areas at the nearly 100-year-old Fox River Grove Middle School, Mahaffy said.

"Algonquin Road School is good for 20 years now," he said.

The district was unable to get a $50,000 matching grant for school maintenance from the state this year. "We were told that we can (apply) for the next round," Mahaffy said.

Last school year, the district received a $50,000 matching grant used to fund much-needed improvements at the elementary school, including new cafeteria tables, a gymnasium divider, and new padding around the gym.

"We spent $122,000 last year in school maintenance projects," Mahaffy said. "We redid an outdated alarm system at our elementary building."

The district also installed a new wireless networking system at both schools, and added fiber optic cables for improved bandwidth over the summer.

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