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updated: 7/21/2014 11:44 PM

Proposed Geneva schools budget calls for deficit on purpose

Officials to spend $4.8 million more

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  • Video: Planned deficit spending

 
 

The proposed 2014-15 Geneva school budget calls for spending about $4.8 million more than the district expects to take in.

"You're going to see some deficit spending by design," board President Mark Grosso said Monday night. The district intends to use excess money in its reserves to make part of its debt payment and pursue some capital projects. "It (using the reserves) works out better for our taxpayers when we can do that."

The budget calls for income of $95.47 million and spending of $100.33 million.

The board will have a public hearing on the budget Aug. 25 and expects to vote on it that night. The fiscal year began July 1, but school boards have until Sept. 30 to approve their budgets.

The tentative budget can be viewed at the district's headquarters at 227 N. Fourth St., Geneva, or online at www.geneva304.org.

The district proposes spending about $2.77 million more than it projects to have spent in the 2013-14 fiscal year, which ended June 30. The books on that fiscal year haven't been closed out yet.

The budget includes increases in salaries, insurance benefits, fees for occupational and physical therapy for students, tuition for special education, the district's new Project Lead the Way science, technology, engineering and mathematics program, the start of a 1:1 computer device-to-student program for all fifth-graders and the new all-day kindergarten.

The money for debt payment is coming from the education fund. For several years, the district has pledged to transfer any amount in excess of $15 million in that fund to the debt fund.

That practice was criticized by the Geneva Education Association, the teachers union, in a March 10 letter to the school board. The letter asked the school board to spend money on upgrading technology required for state standardized assessment testing; buying laboratory equipment and supplies for science classes to meet Next Generation Science Standards; purchasing items and other resources related to implementing Common Core standards; and professional development related to these initiatives.

"Moving a reasonable amount of education funds into working capital provides this flexibility while putting the money into a debt service fund limits the ability to change course and seize opportunity for our students," read the letter.

District officials last fall discussed parking education-fund reserves in the working-cash fund, where they would be less restricted.

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