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Local

Kaneland school district considers spending plan for one-time surplus

District has $5.5 million to use on district needs

District 302
District 302

SUGAR GROVE – Kaneland School District 302 has $5.5 million it’s looking to use to address the many needs of the district.

The funds have been made available because the Kaneland Board of Education’s fund balance policy requires that it maintain at least 45 days of cash on hand throughout the fiscal year to cover operating funds expenditures, but the fund balance now has about 34 more days of cash on hand, or about $5.5 million, than the policy requires.

“The use of fund balance is typically considered to be a one-time money,” said Todd Leden, Kaneland District superintendent. “The board will need to consider the use of the fund balance so as not to commit the board to ongoing or recurring expenditures that cannot be sustained.”

The board now has some considerations to make regarding how to best use the funds strategically.

“There will also be a capital project and we do have some serious needs,” said Julie-Ann Fuchs, Kaneland District associate superintendent. “I would say Mr. [Mark] Payton [district director of buildings and grounds] would tell you that the HVAC systems at the high school and John Stewart are in deep need of replacing things. We all know about the Meredith parking lot, the track, the bathrooms, inside and outside. There are a lot of large projects we can pick from.”

Fuchs said she considers it to be a one-time resource and cautions using it on recurring expenditures, although that remains a possibility, too.

The district maintains and updates a five-year capital plan each year and has spent between $500,000 and $700,000 for capital projects and improvements during the past several years. Based on the 2019 capital plan, the total estimated capital expenditures were about $8.6 million over a five-year time frame. An updated capital project plan will be presented in November.

If the board chooses to use a portion of the money for recurring expenditures, administration shared a few ideas that align with Kaneland 2020 or the new strategic plan for next year, including the 1:1 initiative, the Learning Management System (Canvas) and maintenance of schools grounds.

Administration recommends a three- to five-year plan in which the fund balance is reduced. By spending at this rate, the board will be able to monitor changes at the state level and update the strategic spending plan on an annual basis as needed.

The board’s general consensus during the initial discussions at the Sept. 30 meeting was to use the funds on a one-time expenditure and to move forward sooner than later.

“The tax money has been collected and should be spent,” board member Aaron Lawler said. “Taxpayers had the expectation that we were spending that money for education, including buildings and maintenance. Before next school year would make sense.”

Administration will present the board with updated strategic spending options and the capital plan in November and discussions will continue at that time.

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