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Local

Financial outlook good for RFHS

Buildings fund a cause for concern

ROCK FALLS – The high school's fund balances are in good shape, but they continue to take a hit from deficit spending.

The Rock Falls High School District projects a deficit of $863,397 across all its funds for the 2013-2014 school year, including a deficit of $733,546 in the education fund, Superintendent Ronald McCord said at Wednesday's board meeting.

The deficit spending will leave the district with about $3.3 million in its education fund and $8.9 million across all its funds.

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

Despite healthy fund balances, the district cannot continue to deficit spend or else its balances will dwindle, McCord said.

"You don't want it to keep eating away at those balances," McCord said. "This isn't where we want to be. We'll continue to find ways to trim the budget to be fiscally responsible. We'll do that before we ever cut programs."

The superintendent cited the state's inability to fund general state aid at its full amount as a leading factor in the projected deficits. The state will pay 89 percent of general state aid this school year.

The operations and maintenance fund, which is used to care for facilities, is of most concern, McCord said.

That fund balance sits at $379,331. He is projecting $186,132 in the black for that fund, but salaries traditionally paid out of that fund will be taken over by the education fund to create that positive balance.

An aging building from the 1920s takes its toll to maintain, the superintendent said.

Even with that transaction, the education fund projects a better outlook than last year, thanks to an increase of $165,680 in revenue from the previous year.

The tentative budget will be placed on file for public review and still is a work in progress. The board will vote to adopt a final budget at 6:45 p.m. Sept. 25.

Also, the board approved the hiring of Cathryn Burger as the school's IT director.

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