ST. CHARLES – In light of the financial storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 has cut about $5 million in expenses and revenues to create a balanced budget.
The budget reductions are across the board, including in bus purchases and fuel, capital improvements, furniture and equipment and replacement of technology devices.
At their meeting Monday, board members unanimously approved a $178.6 million budget. In April, district officials had said the district could receive $2 million less in local funding and $2.75 million in state funding because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You as a board should feel very proud," Seth Chapman, the district's assistant superintendent of business services and chief financial officer, said in addressing board members. "This district has maintained fiscal stability that is not common in the state of Illinois, as noted by our 4.0 recognition status by the Illinois State Board of Education."
The district has maintained a perfect 4.0 rating for the past several years, Chapman said. The rating is the state’s primary way to measure fiscal health in Illinois school districts.
For operating funds, there is a budget surplus of $525,466 in this year's budget. For all funds, there is a budget deficit of $498,472.
Total revenue for all funds is estimated to decrease by 1.11%. Total revenue for operating funds is estimated to decrease by 4.34%.
The district has the lowest school district debt tax rate in Kane County and is one of the lowest leveraged school districts in the state, Chapman told board members during a July 22 presentation on the budget.
"The debt service will drop again in a couple of years," he said. "Not only is the debt low, it's dropping."
He noted the budget's flexibility in dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on education.
"I'm proud to say that it is a very flexible and agile budget as we look to support remote learning and different models and modes of instructional initiatives that will come through the year," Chapman said.
He said the district has enough in reserves to weather the financial storm caused by COVID-19. That includes a 45 percent drop in fee based revenue.