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Dist. 230 proposes balanced $143.8 million budget

          The School District 230 Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the tentative $143.8 million budget for fiscal year 2018 at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at Andrew High School, at 9001 W. 171st St., Tinley Park.

          The hearing will precede the regular monthly school board meeting, when the balanced budget is expected to be adopted. Finance Committee Chairman Tony Serratore noted at the Aug. 31 meeting that if adopted, it would be the 15th consecutive balanced budget passed by the board, which oversees Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Stagg High School in Palos Hills and Andrew in Tinley.

          Until the Sept. 28 meeting, the tentative budget is available for viewing on the District 230 website, under the “School News” tab, at www.d230.org. It may also be viewed at the District 230 administration office, 15100 S. 94th Ave., Orland Park.

          Members of the board and administration have been keeping close tabs in recent weeks on the wrangling over education funding in Springfield, and Superintendent Dr. James Gay and others expressed relief that Gov. Bruce Rauner finally signed a funding bill just hours before the meeting.

          “We anticipate at least the same level of state funding this year,” said John Lavelle, assistant superintendent for business services, adding that the budget numbers might change slightly before Sept. 28, as details come out about the state funding bill.

          “We were watching the proceedings in Springfield live today. There are no real numbers yet. I think right now, we are fine. We are held harmless, but it (will change) from year to year,” said Gay, due to the new funding formula that will be in place.

The “hold harmless” provision of SB 1 guarantees no school will receive less state aid under the new model than it currently does.

Responding to Board President Rick Nogal, who asked whether the elementary schools that feed into 230 would also be held harmless this year, Gay said that was correct. Those schools would not lose any money, either.

          Lavelle said the new funding formula, designed to provide more money to the districts most in need of it, is driven by 27 different elements.

          “This district has been very proactive (financially). That helps because the state funding is such a fast-moving target,” said Nogal.

          District 230 currently only receives about eight percent of its funding from the state, and that is not likely to increase under the new formula, which places the district in Tier 3, with only Tier 4 above it. According to reports, most of the new funding dollars being made available will go to Tier 1 and Tier 2 schools.

          Lavelle said that this year, the money allocated to the district is guaranteed, because it has already been budgeted. But in future, general state aid is going to depend more on the number of students enrolled in the district.

          “I think we just have to keep an eye on it,” said Gay.

          The superintendent pointed out the eight percent of funding District 230 receives from the state includes five percent that is specifically for “categoricals,” the term used for transportation and special education. “So without that, we are really only getting three percent of state funding (for general use),” he said.

          It was also noted at the meeting that the district just recently received its last payment for categorials the state owed for the 2015-16 school year, and the payments for the 2016-17 are still overdue.

          “I firmly believe that our voice was heard because some parts of the original bill that were very detrimental to us were removed,” said Gay.

          “I would like to thank Dr. Gay for fighting for our money. I appreciate it and am very grateful,” said board Vice President Melissa Gracias.

          “I want to thank the administration for the long hours and efforts put into this,” agreed board secretary Susan Dalton.

         

         

         

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