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District 87 projects a $3.4M deficit due to higher transportation and personnel costs

District 87 sign outside Bloomington Junior High School.
Eric Stock

District 87 projects another budget deficit this school year, but the financial chief for Bloomington Public Schools says the district's financial health is good.

Mike Cornale, chief financial and facilities officer, said the district's projected $3.4 million deficit for the 2022-2023 school year is similar to last year's estimate, but he noted state tax revenue pushed the district to a large and unexpected surplus of $6 million that was used to bolster the education fund.

“A huge tipping point for us last year was the corporate personal property replacement tax. We didn’t anticipate anywhere near the revenue we have seen,” said Cornale, adding the district is only projecting to get $3.2 million this year — about half of last year’s allotment.

At the same time, Cornale said the district is bracing for some additional expenses. Transportation and payroll costs are going up this year, he said. The district also negotiated a new contract with its school bus provider, Illinois Central School Bus, and is adding new administrators, paraprofessionals, ESL (English as a Second Language) instructors, support staff and several other jobs.

He noted the district also deferred some expenses last year for projects that were not completed until after July 1.

Cornale said the district doesn’t anticipate reducing staff this year. The district is projecting a 2.5% increase in taxable land values after several years of little to no growth. He said that, coupled with a $317,000 increase in evidence-based funding, will help offset higher costs.

“Our funding sources are on their way up, instead of last year we actually had seen a decline in EAV (equalized assessed valuation),” Cornale said. “It’s harder to budget for.”

Cornale presented the district's proposed budget to the school board Wednesday night.

The board will vote on the budget next month.

The district plans to set its 2023 tax levy in December.

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