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Dist. 54 shows better finances than anticipated

Amended FY’13 budget still reflects $400,000 Education fund deficit

Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013 8:29 a.m. CST

The Morris Elementary School Dist. 54 board Monday approved their amended budget for fiscal year 2013, which contained better numbers than originally expected.

The district is operating at a $400,000 deficit in the Education Fund and a $190,000 overall deficit, according to Superintendent Teri Shaw. The district, however, had expected numbers to be worse based on five-year projections.

But, she said, the district received more revenue and state aid, and had lower expenses than anticipated.

“It’s something to be optimistic about,” Shaw said. “This isn’t as detrimental as it looks on a one-year snap shot.”

Shaw said the district saw the deficit coming after the nation’s economic collapse in 2008.

“We budgeted accordingly to build some fund balance,” Shaw said, adding that the district has been conservative with expenses and has benefited from the current Tax Increment Financing agreement with the city.

Shaw also said the district has taken “drastic measures” to balance the budget, citing staggered start times, shared busing and the creation of a “district principal” position as examples.

“We could actually see black next year,” Shaw said.

The board also approved new contracts for the district administrators, who will receive extra duty stipends in addition to the 3.25 percent raises most employees will get.

Chris Maier, who will be district principal, will earn $80,207.33, along with a $17,000 extra duty stipend. He will preside over both White Oak and Shabbona.

Chris Popidinski, associate principal at White Oak, will earn $65,559.64; Tom McLaughlin, associate principal at Shabbona, will earn $64,112.91; and Melissa Groot, director of special populations, will earn $72,269.84.

Each of the three will receive a $5,000 extra duty stipend.

“We will see a $50,000 cost reduction by restructuring,” Shaw said, “but we gave the administrators the extra duty stipend because the depth and breadth of their jobs has increased.”Shaw expressed confidence in the restructuring, and Maier in particular.

“He’s worked with the district for a couple years, and he has excelled,” Shaw said. “The board has a lot of faith in [Maier].”

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