District 155 budget includes increases in revenue, spending

Gym renovations and air conditioning improvements are among the $11 million in capital expenditures approved by the Crystal Lake High School District 155 Board as part of the district's 2021-22 budget.

The budget totals $110 million in revenue and $118 million in expenditures. Although it projects a $7.8 million deficit because of planned capital expenditures, the budget is otherwise balanced, said Kevin Werner, the district's chief officer of finance and operations.

District 155 continues "to invest heavily in our aging infrastructure," Werner said.

Work on some of the improvements began in May, operations director Troy Stinger said at a recent board meeting.

At Crystal Lake Central High School, the final phase of air conditioning improvements was completed; the auxiliary gym room was replaced; and new carpet, paint and tile was installed in the media center, Stinger said.

At Cary-Grove High School, the second of three phases of air conditioning improvements was done, and new flooring was installed in some classrooms, he said.

At Crystal Lake South High School, the dedicated outside air system was replaced, and so was a 27-year-old cooling tower with "significant maintenance issues," Stinger said.

Most noticeably, the main gym at Crystal Lake South received a new floor, new basketball rims and backboards, as well as new bleachers, Stinger said. A new floor and ceiling was installed in the auxiliary gym.

Prairie Ridge High School received a much-anticipated sidewalk between Walkup Road and the school building. The Nunda Township Road District assisted with the project, Stinger said.

District 155 also expects to see some of its revenue rise this budget year, increasing by $5.4 million overall to $110.2 million, Werner said.

Key drivers for this included federal revenue the district received in part from COVID-19 packages, and a more than $872,000 increase in property taxes, with revenue from those rising to almost $75.4 million, according to last year's budget.

"Historically, this is the largest increase, which was curtailed this year by board actions to abate back $1 million in property taxes," Werner said.

More than $118 million is expected in expenditures, an increase of $11.7 million, or 10%, over the last fiscal year. Much of the increase is because of COVID-19 recovery costs and salary and benefits, which were negotiated as part of the district's collective bargaining agreements, Werner said.

Part of the reason expenses are expected to be higher is because the district plans on filling full-year substitute assignments that were partially filled last year because of the pandemic. A full year of in-person learning also will result in additional costs for food and transportation, Werner said.

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