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District 230 officials applaud retiring finance chief at the end of his long balancing act

 

The High School District 230 board of education last Thursday adopted the last budget to be submitted by outgoing Assistant Superintendent Steve Langert.

Held only three business days before his retirement on Tuesday as the district’s finance chief, Langert’s final board meeting was filled with verbal high-fives for his years of service to the district that operates Sandburg, Stagg and Andrew high schools.

“If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Steve is the most ethical, honest person I’ve ever met,” said Superintendent Dr. James Gay. “In that field, in that area, you don’t see that all the time–in business offices, in school financing, it’s a tough field.”

More plaudits flowed forth at the board’s June meeting, held at the district’s administration center, 15100 S. 94th Ave.

Board member Patrick O’Sullivan praised him for his depth and breadth of knowledge about all things related to school funding and budgeting, and added that others share that view.

“When I talk to people in other school districts, they ask about you,” O’Sullivan told Langert. “You’re so well respected among your peers in your field, it’s amazing. You’re at the top of your profession, and you’re going out on top.”

Board member Tony Serratore, who like O’Sullivan has worked with Langert for eight years, thanked Langert for schooling him in finance-related matters.

“I remember the first meeting I came to [as a board member] and I wondered, ‘What is all this stuff?’ but as time progressed, I learned because Steve was very patient and easy to work with,” Serratore said. “He always willing to answer questions and once I became chairman of the Building and Finance Committee, I called him at home a couple of times on the weekends and he answered my call.

“He explained things to me, and he always walked me through things. You will be very hard to replace,” Serratore added.

Langert, who has served in his current position since 2003 and has more than 20 years in jobs relating to school finance, repeatedly deflected the shower of praise and talked about the importance of teamwork—choosing to praise staff under his supervision, as well as board members and other colleagues in the district.

In the middle of all the praise, board members adopted the district’s FY 2016 budget on a unanimous vote.

The budget is the 13th consecutive balanced budget in a row, officials said.

The budget is normally approved in September, but was pushed up 90 days in anticipation of Langert’s departure.

As required by law, the draft budget had been available for public inspection for about a month, and no members of the public had anything to say about it at a brief budget hearing that was part of Thursday’s meeting.

In a memo to Gay, Langert wrote that the district’s operating budget of $125.3 million “is balanced, with total revenues slightly exceeding total expenditures in the district’s four operating funds: education, operations and maintenance, transportation and pension.”

He added that the district’s string of balanced budgets is a noteworthy achievement in harsh economic times and said that the Illinois State Board of Education recently reported that two-thirds of all public schools in the state are operating in the red.

Further, Langert praised board members for fiscal restraint.

“Many school districts have been forced to raise taxes through referendum and/or increase fees in order to balance the budget or minimize its deficit, District 230 has not…the school board also has been levying below what is allowable under the tax cap regulations and filed a zero percent levy for the past two years,” he wrote.

Also last Thursday, it was noted that tickets are still available for the District 230 Foundation’s annual golf outing, set for Monday, July 27 at Silver Lake Country Club. Foundation Secretary Carla Erdey noted that green fee is $100 per golfer, and sponsorship opportunities are still available. For details on the event, visit d230foundation.org online.

The next board meeting is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 30 at the administration center.

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Photo by Tim Hadac

Retiring High School District 230 finance chief Steve Langert (left) chats with board member Tony Serratore after last Thursday’s meeting. The two have known each other since childhood, and both attended Brother Rice High School.

 

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