State Stability Helps Unit 5, But Structural Deficit Looms Large | WGLT

State Stability Helps Unit 5, But Structural Deficit Looms Large

Jun 17, 2019

Unit 5 schools are still in a deep financial hole, even with some increased state budget stability.

“It will help our budget going into next year, but the amount of new funds coming from the state for us will not really move the needle on what is our structural deficit in the Education Fund," said Unit 5 chief financial officer Marty Hickman. "We're grateful. The last few years as far as funding from the state at least has been more dependable."

Unit 5 administrators and the school board have turned to short-term borrowing to make it through this fiscal year and the next.

“This year, the true structural deficit is about $6.4 million. Last summer, we sold working cash bonds to really cover us over this current year in this next fiscal year,” said Hickman.

Superintendent Mark Daniel has said over 100 teaching jobs would need to be eliminated to balance the budget if Unit 5 does not address its structural deficit.

Unit 5 administrators have discussed a tax referendum for 2020, but no action has been taken towards putting one on the ballot. Daniel said if voters approve an increase in property tax, tax rates can remain stable as old bond payments expire.

Several years ago, a sales tax referendum to help Unit 5 maintain facilities upkeep was rejected by voters.

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