Unit 5 Budget Temporarily Plugs Education Funding Gap | WGLT

Unit 5 Budget Temporarily Plugs Education Funding Gap

Sep 27, 2018

Unit 5 will avoid a major deficit without cutting education expenses for the 2018-2019 school year.

The budget adopted Wednesday night offsets a more than $5 million structural deficit in the district’s education fund with $16.5 million in working cash bonds to be issued later this year. The bonds will also cover the projected $10 million education fund deficit for the 2019-2020 school year and an addition to Colene Hoose Elementary School.

The bonds are just a temporary, two-year fix for a more serious funding problem.

With the majority of the district’s funding coming from property taxes, and growth in property values relatively flat, district officials say they’ll need to take greater action to fend off funding gaps after 2020.

In a budget memo to the board, Unit 5 Business Manager and Treasurer Marty Hickman wrote that “revenue will need to increase significantly or expenses will need to decrease significantly in order to balance the budget in the future.”

Superintendent Mark Daniel said a referendum is still one option to bring in additional revenue to continue to meet students’ needs as costs go up.

Daniel told GLT last month the district hoped to start the process in November or December to hold a referendum in 2020. They’ll need more information before concrete plans are announced, he said Wednesday.

Substitute Teachers

In other business, Unit 5’s new substitute teacher advisory group is ready for its first meeting Oct. 9.

Executive Director of Human Relations and Student Services James Harden announced plans to form the group Sept. 12 after three substitute teachers told the board the district needs to reconsider the payment and treatment of its subs.

Around 25 members make up the committee, including teachers, substitute teachers, administrators and representatives from both of the district’s unions.

“We plan to talk about things like work environment, recruitment and retention, training of subs, financial implications, technology and accessibility,” Harden said. “We hope to have follow-up meetings immediately afterward with some recommendations back to the board as soon as possible.”

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