Wauconda District 118's nearly final budget includes new Crown School playground

Wauconda Unit School District 118 officials are set to approve a roughly $74.3 million budget this week.

The spending plan for the 2019 fiscal year includes money for the recent construction of a new playground for younger students at Crown School, new tile floors at Crown and other projects.

The proposed budget is about 3.8 percent greater than the $71.6 million plan that was in place for the 2018 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The school board will publicly discuss the proposed budget during a committee of the whole meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wauconda High School, 555 N. Main St.

The board is scheduled to approve the plan in a second meeting that will immediately follow the first session.

District 118 serves about 4,700 students at Wauconda High, Wauconda Middle School, Matthews Middle School, Wauconda Grade School, Crown and Cotton Creek School.

In addition to money for personnel and basic operating costs, the budget sets aside about $120,000 for the new playground at Crown, officials said.

Built for students in the school's early childhood program, it features equipment designed to boost gross motor and fine motor skills, Principal Karrie Diol said.

"In addition, children will develop balance, strength, coordination, social skills and problem-solving skills while playing on the playground," Diol said.

Work has been done this summer inside Crown, too. About $125,000 is budgeted for the removal of old carpet and installation of new tile floors in the school's classrooms, said Bill Harkin, the district's associate superintendent for business services.

The proposed budget also sets aside an estimated $610,000 for computer equipment, including Chromebook laptop computers for all incoming Wauconda High freshmen, and more than $600,000 for new textbooks and e-books for the 2018-19 term, Harkin said, among other purchases.

To fund all that spending, district officials predict they'll collect nearly $73 million in property taxes, fees and other revenue over the next year. That's up 1.5 percent from about $71.9 million in the 2018 fiscal year.

Harkin attributed the roughly $1 million gap between projected spending and projected revenue to the various summer construction and improvement projects. The cash for those efforts will come from a dedicated fund for capital improvements, he said.

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