District 128 board finalizing $114.8 million budget

  • About $18 million for an expansion at Vernon Hills High School is among the big-ticket items in Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128's proposed $114.8 million budget for the new fiscal year.

      About $18 million for an expansion at Vernon Hills High School is among the big-ticket items in Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128's proposed $114.8 million budget for the new fiscal year. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Updated 8/8/2019 10:19 AM

A building expansion at Vernon Hills High is the most notable project in Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128's proposed $114.8 million budget for the new fiscal year.

The spending plan also includes cash for the nearly completed construction of a new swimming pool at sister school Libertyville High, as well as a related interior renovation at the school, among other projects and programs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The new fiscal year began July 1. The board typically approves the budget a couple months after the start of the new fiscal cycle. The draft budget will be tweaked before it's brought up for approval Aug. 26.

Projected spending is up about $8.9 million from the 2019 fiscal year's $105.9 million budgeted estimate, a jump of more than 8%.

The proposed budget includes about $18 million for the Vernon Hills High expansion.

Eight new classrooms, a cafeteria expansion, a second gymnasium and a new dance studio are planned for the campus, among other facilities.

The proposed budget also includes about $4.7 million for the new pool at Libertyville High and about $4.8 million for the planned renovation of the old Libertyville pool into space for physical education and extracurricular programs.

The projects are multiyear efforts, so those figures are a fraction of the total cost of each project. Altogether, they're expected to cost about $51.8 million.

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Revenue from property taxes, fees and other sources also is projected to increase, from nearly $87 million to about $90.7 million. That's about a 4% bump.

The revenue increase is somewhat misleading, though. Although its revenue generally increases each year, the district received a greater-than-usual percentage of property tax funds in July, right at the start of the 2020 fiscal year, said Dan Stanley, the district's assistant superintendent for finance. That equated to an extra $1.3 million, he said.

The estimated $24.1 million difference between anticipated spending and revenue will be made up with cash from savings, Stanley said. He attributed the overage to the construction projects.

The proposed budget was publicly reviewed by board members and administrators this week, but it's still evolving.

Board President Pat Groody said savings strategies have allowed district leaders to implement big facility projects without requesting more tax revenue from residents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Using savings rather than borrowing money also prevents the need for costly interest payments, Groody said.

"I think it's a solid budget," Groody said. "(We are) managing our finances effectively."

A public hearing on the spending plan is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 12, at Vernon Hills High School, 145 Lakeview Parkway, Vernon Hills.

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