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District 87’s budget deficit much smaller than first projected

District 87 headquarters
Eric Stock
The District 87 school board will vote on a revised budget next month that trims the deficit by $3 million.

District 87's financial situation is not as dire as the Bloomington school system projected last fall.

The district's revised budget reduces its deficit from $3.6 million to $621,000, based on a proposal the school board will review tonight. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

Chief financial and facilities officer Mike Cornale said tax revenue came in $2.7 million higher than expected, especially revenue the state collects (the corporate personal replacement property tax). Cornale added the district doesn’t get a specific breakdown of where the tax revenue comes from, but he pointed to new funding streams that have likely helped.

“We’ve had additional ways to leverage tax, a cannabis tax, a gambling tax and different things like that,” Cornale said. “That could be a component as well. I believe some of the online sales are having an impact associated with that.”

Cornale said District 87 also got an additional $47,000 from the state to make up for several years of miscalculating its evidence-based school funding formula that overpaid Chicago public schools. He said the district also received higher-than-expected property tax collection when some property owners paid overdue balances.

The district also cut expenses by $243,000 from the original budget.

District 87 took on $15 million in debt two years ago because of COVID-19 and other uncertainties that would impact the district’s long-term finances.

Cornale, who started at District 87 last summer, defended the move, saying the district had good reason to be cautious at the time.

“All the information that was given at that time indicated the need,” Cornale said. “No one had any idea we were going to see $20 million plus in federal stimulus.”

Cornale said the district can plug the deficit with cash reserves. The district has about $21.5 million in its working cash fund.

The district will present its budget update tonight during its school board meeting. The board is expected to vote on the revised budget following a public hearing at its June 15 meeting.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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