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District 304 OKs tentative $100 million budget

GENEVA – The Geneva District 304 school board Monday unanimously approved a tentative 2014-15 budget of more than $100 million in expenditures, $95.5 million in revenue, and a shortfall of nearly $5 million.

This represents an increase in expenditures by $8 million over last year’s budget of $92 million and an increase in revenue of nearly $2.5 million, records show.

The deficit spending is purposeful because the district is spending down its reserves to pay down its debt, officials said.

“This has been quite an effort this year to make sure we are getting it right,” board president Mark Grosso said. 

“We are being as accurate as we can. You are going to see … some deficit spending by design in here,” Grosso said. “We are actually spending down some of the reserve money we have that allowed us to levy less in the last year. It works out better for our taxpayers.”

Officials said the district is spending down fund balances in its operations and maintenance fund to pay for capital projects and technology infrastructure and the municipal retirement fund, which will more accurately reflect each year’s actual needs, officials said in a statement.

Expenditures include program expansion, such as all-day kindergarten at six elementary schools, the introduction of a one-to-one technology program for all fifth graders and a curriculum program that combines science, technology, engineering and math at the middle schools and high schools, officials said.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Donna Oberg said over the last few years, the district’s debt payments have increased substantially, from $14 million to $18 million this year.

Oberg said the district purposely levied $3 million less than needed for the debt service, intending to use abatement dollars from the education fund to make bond payments.

The tentative budget is a breakdown of anticipated revenues and expenditures for the next fiscal year, which began July 1, officials said.

The tentative budget will be on display for public inspection at the Coultrap Educational Services Center, 227 N. Fourth St.

Public inspection will be available through Aug. 25, when the proposed plan will be the subject of a public hearing at 7 p.m. at Williamsburg Elementary School, 1812 Williamsburg Ave., and then is expected to have final board approval.

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