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Local

Morris District 54 peeks at 2019-2020 budget

Conservative estimates show $120,000 surplus

Morris Elementary School District 54 administrative assistant Lisa Beeler, Superintendent Dr. Shannon Dudek, and board president Jerald White at Monday's meeting.
Morris Elementary School District 54 administrative assistant Lisa Beeler, Superintendent Dr. Shannon Dudek, and board president Jerald White at Monday's meeting.

Morris Elementary School District 54 business manager Jill Mills gave the first look of the 2019-20 budget during the regular board of education meeting on Monday.

Mills emphasized that the numbers were raw with conservative estimates since state funding is not yet verified, and evidence-based funding and grants have just started to come in. Teachers contracts are also still in the negotiation stage.

“The numbers given were estimated and I will have better numbers at the September meeting,” Mills said.

Currently, the combined funds show a district with an estimated surplus of $120,000. Miller said that big expenses on the horizon include about $300,000 for modular classrooms, $75,000 for math curriculum and $50,000 each for science and social studies curriculum.

Mills said that the district has a large bond payment this fiscal year, almost $1 million, and the district has prepared for that payment out of the debt services fund, which is fed by tax dollars, as well as some of the district tax increment financing money in order to keep the tax rate down for the residents of the district.

During the past three years, the fund balances have increased to help put money into savings, so as the balloon payments come in, the district has a way to get out of debt and keep in line with taxes. Revenue and expenditures of the district look to be about $14 million.

Superintendent Dr. Shannon Dudek offered district trend data during, noting that so far the school has about 1,200 enrolled students, with more each day.

He said that the number of low-income students sharply has increased since 2012, and that the school’s low-income student population is about 40%. Dudek said the district has witnessed spikes in the special education and English language learners students.

The budget will be on display for
30 days before the September 2019 meeting. Dudek said it will need to be approved by the board at that time and then will be amended in the spring, as always, when final numbers come in.

The board also approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Morris Police Department to provide a school resource officer to the district.

“An officer will be stationed at Morris Grade School, each student attendance day from 7:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., to support school safety,” Dudek said in his report.

The total cost will be $43,870. Dudek said that some flexibility will be provided if the school resource officer needs to attend meetings or school functions.

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