District 207's new $242.2 million budget includes cash for building renovations
The Maine Township High School District 207 board has approved a nearly $242.2 million budget for its new fiscal year, with a big chunk of that funding set aside for long-awaited renovations at the district's three campuses.
Voters in 2018 greenlit a $240.7 million plan to help fund improvements at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Maine East High in Park Ridge and Maine South High in Park Ridge.
Infrastructure improvements, safety and security enhancements and classroom upgrades are being made. A new field house is being built at Maine West, too.
Construction started this spring and is expected to be complete in summer 2022.
Some classroom upgrades were finished this summer, with more to be completed over the next two summers, officials said.
To fund the construction, the district is borrowing $195 million and using more than $45 million from district reserves. Property tax rates increased to repay the loans.
Millions for the projects are included in the new District 207 budget, which the school board approved Tuesday night. The new fiscal year began July 1.
With $130 million in construction loans already in hand, the district's annual spending estimate is projected to be 36.5% greater than the 2020 fiscal year's $177.4 million total.
Spending also is increasing because of the need to buy personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and sanitation services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mary Kalou, the district's assistant superintendent for finance.
The district also is purchasing cameras for classrooms to increase the quality of remote learning, Kalou told the board.
"That's an example of a COVID-19 expenditure that was unforeseen a year ago," she said.
The budget predicts nearly $177.4 million in revenue from property taxes, fees and other sources this year. That's down about 39% from nearly $290.6 million in the 2020 fiscal year. Just as spending is increasing this year because of the facilities plan, annual revenue will decrease because most of the construction loans were collected last year, officials said.
Additionally, revenues from some taxes and fees are decreasing because of the pandemic, officials said.
A relatively small $223,000 deficit is expected for the year, Kalou said.
With schooling in District 207 mainly being handled remotely this fall, officials are reviewing staffing levels. Some employees have been reassigned to help distribute supplies, officials said.
About 6,400 students are enrolled at the district's three schools.