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Siltman: ‘We’re spending borrowed money’

MANLIUS — Although the financial picture in the Bureau Valley School District looks all right for now, money problems continue to affect the district.

At Monday’s board meeting, board member Kent Siltman reviewed some the financial issues facing the district, including some financial projections provided by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE.)

“We’re trying to look out two or three years in the future and see what maybe we can expect in terms of revenue,” he said. “It does appear that our revenue sources will continue to decline.”

Enrollment is one factor in general state aid. Siltman said the district is currently in a bit of a decline, but there is better than expected enrollment in some of the lower grades.

Siltman said the district dealt with the revenue decline last year by issuing $2.9 million in working cash bonds in July. He said the district is watching expenses closely and trying to see how long it can make that money last until more bonds might have to be issued.

“We’re spending borrowed money to pay current expenses,” he said.

Siltman said almost half of the $2.9 million is budgeted to be spent this year, but he hopes the balance can be spread over at least the two years after that.

In addition to giving the district needed cash, the working cash bonds also will probably boost the district’s financial profile, issued by the ISBE. The district moved onto the watch list before the bonds were issued because of low amount of cash on hand. Siltman said there will probably be an improvement in the profile this year.

Siltman said the board will need to make decisions about any more reductions or cuts this spring.

Interim Superintendent Dennis Thompson said the district needed to take action because income is not going up. The district already receives only a portion of its allocated general state aid money, and that percentage will probably drop to 80 percent next year.

“You do that for one year, you lose $300,000, and after two years it’s $600,000,” he said. “It keeps escalating, and you can’t replace that.”

Thompson then turned to the many teachers who were in the audience.

“You are scheduled to have a raise, and you deserve it,” he said. “But everything that you get on that raise is an expense; we don’t have any money to make up the difference besides the money that we’re borrowing.”

Thompson said the borrowed money is being spent quickly, and decisions will need to be made soon.

“They’re not easy,” he said. “They’re not things that are popular, and they’re not happy moments for everybody.”

Thompson said the proposed cutbacks aren’t good news, but at least everybody is aware of the situation.

Siltman also reviewed the district’s current finances. The district has received 87 percent of its local revenue for the year, and 43.5 percent of its revenue from the state, which is about right on target.

Overall, expenses are also on target, with $14.7 million in expenses budgeted and $7.1 million spent.

“It appears that we have been managing our finances appropriately,” Siltman said.

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