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Budget outlook bleak for Dixon schools

District eyeing $2 million deficit across its funds

DIXON – School board member Jim Schielein referred to the district’s projected 2013-2014 budget as a train wreck.

Dixon School officials reported Wednesday a projected deficit of a little more than $2 million across all of its funds for the next school year, leaving the district with a $6.6 million total fund balance.

The education fund will take the biggest hit, said David Blackburn, business manager for the district.

There the deficit is projected at about $1.47 million, leaving a fund balance of $1.44 million in the education fund.

The education fund is the largest and most critical in a school district, funding everything from teachers’ salaries to educational programs.

The education fund went from a fund balance of $4.3 million in 2012 to the projected $1.44 million at the end of the school year, Blackburn said.

A decline in revenues from general state aid and money coming in from property taxes is to blame, he said.

The district has seen a $2.4 million drop in general state aid funding since 2009, and projects a loss of $135,000 from local property taxes.

State aid provides 25 percent of the district’s revenue and local tax dollars supply another 67 percent, Blackburn said.

Also, the district will pay more in salaries to staff as a result of agreed upon raises and more in health insurance costs, Blackburn said.

The bleak projections caused concern among board members, including Schielein.

“At this rate, we’re going to be borrowing money in 2 years,” Schielein said.

Board member Tom Lemoine said the district is in dire straits, encouraging administrators to keep making the necessary cuts before it comes to a point where the district needs to borrow money.

To give an example of the cuts that have taken place, Superintendent Michael Juenger said the district has gone from 191 teachers to 161 since he arrived.

More cuts will have to be evaluated in the future, Juenger said.

The budget will be placed on file for public review and still is a work in progress, Blackburn said. The board will vote to adopt a final budget on Sept. 18.

In other items, the board approved the sale of a 40-foot-wide piece of unused property for $8,000 on the back side of Jefferson Elementary School, near a wooded area.

Also, the board voted in favor of a new insurance plan for noncertified, new employees. Noncertified staff includes nurses, custodians and secretaries. This plan will increase the amount paid by employees in their premiums. The 3-percent pay raises were built in with these changes to the insurance plan in mind, Juenger said.

Members of the board’s negotiating team will meet with the district’s paraprofessionals union later today. That union, which represents 48 full- and 16 part-time teachers assistants, still does not have a contract agreement.

To attend

A budget hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the administrative building, 1335 Franklin Grove Road, followed by the board's regular meeting.

To view the budget, or gain an agenda for the meeting, go to www.dixonschools.org or call 815-284-7722.

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