COVID impacts 2021 school district budget

COVID impacts 2021 school district budget

Carlinville Community Unit No. 1 School District employees recognized at a Sept. 28 Board of Education meeting were, from left, Ron Birk, Brian Austwick, Corey Shockley, Stanley Henderson, Kristin (or is it Kristen) Siglock, Emily Van Natta, Andrea Leefers and Jami Bowman. Photo contributed.

By: CHRISTOPHER BEST

Enquirer~Democrat contributor

Preceding the Sep. 28 Carlinville School Board meeting, a budget hearing was held for the fiscal year 2021 budget, later approved in the regular meeting, which operates on a $1,092,330 deficit in part due to loss of revenue attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the existing fiscal year, which started July 1, the total budgeted revenue for the district is down $1,770,664 from the 2020 actuals. Local income is down $450,758, state income is down $441,927 and federal income is up $668,179.

Although the district is operating at a significant deficit, the district has operated on a deficit five other times in the last 15 years and this year’s is lower than any of those years. The past three years the budget has always operated in the green.

To break down a few of the significant changes to local revenue, the district did receive $95,000 more from property taxes; however, it is expected to receive $138,000 less from interest earnings, $81,000 less in food service revenue (schools are now required to provide free breakfast and lunch although this expected to be reimbursed at a later date by the federal government), $61,000 less in personal property replacement tax, $37,000 less in in donations and contributions, $34,000 less in county facility sales tax revenue, $22,000 less in athletic admissions (due to the cancellation and/or diminishment of sports programs during the pandemic), $18,000 less in student fees and $5,250 less in student tuition (both of which are due to diminished enrollment attributed to the pandemic).

The state-derived evidence-based funding was not impacted and neither was the categorical funding which includes transportation reimbursement and special education.   

The biggest loss in revenue from the state for this year compared to last year is $1,566,158 received in state vocational grants and the $50,000 less in maintenance grants. Although the maintenance grant revenue was awarded in 2020 for projects in the district, many of those projects have carried over to the 2021 fiscal year in part due to delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The district did not lose that money, but because it is attributed to a different year it makes the deficit seem more significant than it might have otherwise.   

Federal funding included a $303,000 increase from CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Emergency School Funding, $240,000 more in special education funding, $106,000 in “digital equity funding” which will provide technology and internet access to those who are need during the pandemic, $42,000 more in Title I, Title II and Title IV funding and also the reimbursement for meals through the federal school breakfast and lunch programs.

While the overall funding for the district is down, expenses are up. Salaries and benefits were $10.965 million and included a $940,000 increase over last year’s actuals. This is partly due to the abrupt closure of on-campus learning during 2020’s spring semester, leaving a few positions unnecessary, but also because of $676,000 in salary/wage increases, $84,000 in substitute cost increases and $180,000 in benefit cost increases (including $103,000 for health insurance and $77,000 in increases to benefits for unemployment, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, the Teacher’s Retirement System, Social Security and Medicare).

Other significant expenses included the final payments on capital purchases through the Secretary of State vocational grant that was awarded last year ($521,000 flow thru to member districts and $70,000 for the remainder of district purchases which included a CNC machine), $303,000 in COVID-19 protective equipment and capital purchased through the CARES Act grant, $106,000 in digital equity technology purchases for those without internet and technology access, a $24,000 increase in fuel for buses, $250,000 in total spending in the capital projects and $305,000 toward the district’s 10-year health, life, safety survey.                                                                                                                                                                                        

Regular meeting

During the regular meeting the 2020 audit performed by Loy, Miller & Talley, P.C. was reviewed and passed. The audit showed that this year Carlinville CUSD No. 1 received a 4.0 on its 2020 Illinois State Board of Education Profile Financial Score. This is the highest possible score, and grants the district “recognition status.”

The district is still paying off debt from loans back in 2018 totaling more than $2 million, but has been on time with all payments and should be paid off within two years.

The audit also showed that the per capita tuition cost has gone up to $7,497 from $6,495 last year.

Following the audit, a COVID-19 Stipend Memorandum of Understanding was reviewed and passed for the 2020-2021 school year. This deals with athletics, activities, safety procedures and more related to the ongoing pandemic.

The memorandum included plans on how to go forward with sports and activities, must of which will continue in one form or fashion, according to Superintendent Dr. Becky Schuchman.

When asked specifically about the continuation of Scholastic Bowl by board member Dan Kallal, Schuchman said that she believed it would still exist. However,  due to necessary safety precautions including social distancing, it may be severely limited or altered.

Board Policy Changes from Press 105 were reviewed and approved. These mostly dealt with Title 9 changes that require around 16 hours of new training for staff.

Other motions passed at Monday’s meeting included the approval of a long term leave for Amy Pigott, who will return to work in August 2021, the employment of Kathi Rhodus as Intervention/Title Teacher at the Intermediate School for the 2020-2021 school year and the employment of Jared Mahkovtz as a custodian at the high school.

The Carlinville High School commencement ceremony’s date was set for Sunday, May 30, 2021 at 3 p.m.

Next meeting

The school board will next meet on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 at 7 p.m. in the high school.