District 128 OKs $98.3 million budget as it pledges to look for cuts
Moments before the Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 board approved a $98.3 million budget for the new fiscal year Monday, officials said they will try to shave spending.
"Wherever we can we will continue to find ... ways to save," school board President Pat Groody told the audience at the board's meeting at Vernon Hills High.
That could include cutting $8 million that's been set aside for the construction of a new swimming pool at Libertyville High and a second gym at Vernon Hills High. Neither of those projects has been approved by the board yet.
Groody called the projects "discretionary."
If approved, the pool and gym could cost between $23 million and $25 million and take three years to complete.
Board members and administrators have taken heat in recent weeks from residents upset with rising property taxes and school spending.
One of those critics, Gerry Verbeten of Libertyville, spoke to the board again Monday and said the district has reached "a point of diminishing returns" when it comes to spending.
Another Libertyville resident, Tim Anderson, complained about some administrators' budgeted vacation days and the gym plan at Vernon Hills High, among other issues. He called the budget "fraudulent."
A few people spoke in favor of the district's spending habits and facility plans, too.
The new budget covers spending for the 2017 fiscal year, which began July 1.
The bulk of the money included in the plan will go to pay staff salaries and benefits.
Cash also will be spent on projects such as:
• Laptop computers for students at both schools.
• Heating and air conditioning repairs at Vernon Hills High.
• Roof replacement at Libertyville High.
The budget predicts the district will collect about $81.8 million in taxes, fees and other revenue. The $16.5 million difference -- if the pool and gym are built -- would come from district savings.
Board member Stephen Arthur was the only trustee who voted against the budget. Afterward, he said he would've liked expenses to be reduced further.
Budget: Residents complain about rising taxes