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District 87 projects a deficit after getting a $9 million surplus

District 87 offices
Eric Stock
The District 87 school board will get its first look at its $89.9 million spending plan Wednesday night.

District 87 ended last school year with an unexpected case surplus of $9 million, according to a budget presentation the school board will see Wednesday night.

District 87’s chief financial and facilities officer Mike Cornale says tax revenue was much higher than expected, particularly the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT), which came in $4.2 million higher than anticipated, along with higher reimbursements from the USDA’s National School Lunch program.

The district also expenses about $3.7 million lower than projected, according to Cornale.

Cornale said that money will help build up cash reserves which have been depleted years, so a tax break is not likely.

“It’s important to capture the dollars now so that we don’t have to ask for the dollars later,” Cornale said, noting the district has generally kept the tax rate stable for years.

Cornale says District 87 is also in the final year of its emergency funding that it received following the pandemic. The district has received about $20 million in federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) grants over the last two years and expects to receive about $6 million this school year.

"There's going to be some post-ESSER environment that we're probably going to have to dig into our fund balances as we move forward," Cornale said.

Cornale will present the district’s Fiscal Year $89.9 million budget proposal to the school board on Wednesday night during its regular monthly meeting at the Bloomington High School auditorium.

The budget projects a $2.6 million shortfall, due in part to the remodeling of the Bloomington High School locker rooms, a project Cornale said should be completed early during the fall semester.

District 87 is starting to see the area's housing boom help its tax base. The district's proposed budget projects a $2.8 million increase in EAV (Equalized Assessed Valuation), marking a 6.2% increase in taxable land values.

Cornale said the hiring spree at Rivian has had a regional impact.

“As we bolster the region, we bring people in, they want to live in District 87 and because of that, home values have increased,” Cornale said.

The district's property tax base had been flat for years.

The District 87 school board will vote on the proposed budget next month. It will set the 2024 tax levy in December.

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