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updated: 2/28/2014 9:26 AM

District 214 starting new budget process

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Northwest Suburban High School District 214 is preparing for its next budget year with some preliminary guidelines, although many factors about future financials are still unknown.

"We need to pick a starting point to building our budget for next year," said Superintendent Dave Schuler at the board's meeting on Thursday. "We acknowledge that there is a lot of updating that is going to happen between now and the final budget."

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Cash fund revenues for the 2014-15 budget are estimated at $243.8 million, according to the budget guideline documents. Property taxes are expected to continue to be the district's largest source of revenue.

"The district will continue cost containment initiatives as the 2014-2015 budget is prepared to bring forward a balanced operating budget," the document states.

That includes cutting some spending.

"In general, line items for purchased services, supplies and equipment will be frozen or decreased," the document says.

The budget will contain an estimated $7.4 million in capital projects that were already approved by the school board in November.

The largest expense line for the district is salary and benefits, but the district is currently in negotiations with both its teachers and education support personnel so it is unknown how any contract changes could affect the budget.

Staffing numbers and allocations will be determined later in the process, but the document does say that five certified staff members are anticipated to retire at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

The district also is expecting a slight overall enrollment decrease of 44 students, Schuler said. Buffalo Grove and Hersey High Schools will see more significant declines, while Elk Grove, Wheeling and Prospect High schools are expecting increases.

The district is estimating a 6 percent to 8 percent increase in property, casualty and health insurance costs, but officials are still assessing how the Affordable Care Act will affect the district. Technology and transportation costs are also expected to increase, officials said.

Over the past several years the equalized assessed valuation for the district has dropped from $10.4 billion in 2010 to $8.7 billion in 2012, according to the document.

Because of uncertainty in state and federal funding, Schuler said there will still need to be adjustments as the budget is being prepared.

The district's fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

The board will vote to approve the preliminary budget guidelines at its next meeting.

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