St. Charles District 303 eyeing delayed purchases with nearly $3 million surplus
Thanks to an anticipated budget surplus of nearly $3 million, St. Charles Unit District 303 officials are eyeing purchases of buses and computer devices that would allow the district to reduce spending for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
While the district is suffering a $2.5 million revenue shortfall for the school year through January, that's been more than offset by being $5.5 million under budget with expenditures.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Seth Chapman cited conservative budgeting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, state revenues projected to be lower that unexpectedly weren't, and variable salary and benefit expenses that are down because of fewer extracurricular and extended-day opportunities.
"That number can change," Chapman said. "I caution us to be too set on that number just because of the fact, one, we're in kind of an unusual year where history doesn't help us as much and, number two, we're still five months, from a financial perspective, to the end of the year.
"So we'll continue to monitor this, but that gives us a pretty good idea that we do have the availability to spend more funds if the board should desire to do that," he said.
Budget cuts last fall included bus purchases and technology expenses, which is why those are the targeted recommendations for the surplus. Purchases of iPads and Chromebooks would cost $1,165,000, while the purchase of 11 buses would cost $763,000.
School board members agreed to place both items on a future consent agenda, meaning they'll likely be approved.
"Overall I think it's a very good story for our district," board member Heidi Fairgrieve said. "And I think we, again, continue to be in a very solid financial position. Which is important, especially during this time and environment."