The Morris Elementary School District 54 Board of Education approved Monday night both its amended budget and salary increases for two building principals and two assistant principals.
The total revenue in the district’s amended budget is down by about $600,000 from the original proposed budget, Superintendent Teri Shaw said. About half of that revenue should have come from General State Aid. The other half was predicted to come in local property taxes.
“I overestimated the local revenue,” Shaw said.
With that decrease, plus an increase from the estimated Tax Increment Finance District dollars, the amended budget is about $300,000 lower than the original across all funds, Shaw said.
The district projected a balanced budget, meaning the Education Fund would have about $1.5 million in it at the end of the year. With the decrease in the amended budget, however, the district will have to use some of its savings in the Education Fund.
Shaw predicted about one-third of the Education Fund will be used throughout the year, leaving about $1 million in it at the end of the year.
“We were operating at 96 percent of what the state allocates per student,” Finance Committee Chair Lou Klusak said about the 2011-12 school year. “The projection for this coming school year is to only receive 89 percent of that money.”
Klusak voiced concerns during the board’s meeting about Dist. 54’s financial future, as well.
“If something doesn’t happen within the next 12 to 24 months, we’re going to have serious, serious problems,” he said.
He encouraged those in attendance Monday night to contact their congressmen and senators to make sure they know how serious the school’s financial situation is. He also reiterated that the finance committee meetings are open to the public, and the district’s financial information is available on the district’s website, too, at district54.mornet.org.
After the financial predictions were voiced, four salary increases were approved that were a cause for concern from a community member in attendance.
“We heard dire predictions about the budget in the coming years and how bad it is going to be, yet (we heard) salary increases for the principals,” said community member Anne Blanco.
The board approved salary increases for White Oak Elementary Principal Chris Maier, White Oak Assistant Principal Chris Popidinski, Shabbona Middle School Principal Tony Wilkinson and Shabbona Assistant Principal Tom McLaughlin.
Maier’s salary increased from $69,995 to $77,495. Wilkinson’s increased from $77,605 to $85,104.70. Popidinski will receive $63,534.76 and McLaughlin will receive $62,094.83.
Blanco addressed the board, asking for a reason for the salary increases in such financially difficult times.
Shaw read from a list of reasons for the board’s approval of the principals’ increased salaries to address Blanco’s question.
She said both Maier and Wilkinson earned their raises.
Among the 14 reasons listed for Maier were his accomplishments in communicating student disciplinary data to the board, organizing events so the students could help their community, such as the Clothesline Across Campus and the winter holiday program shift from a gift exchange to giving gifts through We Care of Grundy County.
Maier was also recognized for his research and recommendation of a comprehensive literacy program and an early literacy program, fundraising for iPad and iPod mobile carts and the Title I grant to include SMART devices.
Wilkinson’s list of 15 accomplishments included improved communications throughout the Shabbona building and externally to parents and the community through Blackboard connect and weekly “Smoke Signals.”
He also created building leadership teams to improve building and climate culture, building awards, a team to craft a transition plan to the national Common Core Standards and a plan to implement honors math classes for sixth and seventh grades.