A Message from Dr. Alexandra Nicholson, Superintendent - March 7, 2012
Dear Parents, Community Members and Staff,
In the past week, many of you have asked several questions regarding the financial status of District 31. For your information, below are the questions and factual responses to them:
1. Does the District project to have $7,000,000 in cash on hand through 2015 as noted on page 24 line 27 of the budget?
Page 24 of the District 31 budget is the Budget Addendum-Deficit Reduction Plan. District 31 was required to submit to the State due to having less than three times the deficit in the working cash fund. This plan includes issuing bonds of $3 million in 2012-2013.
The estimated fund balance projected for 2014-2015 on page 24 line 27 is $6,629,816. From this balance, approximately $5.5 million will be needed for July through November expenses (approximately $1.1 million per month for 5 months), leaving a balance before tax receipts are received of approximately $1.1 million. The $1.1 million balance can be considered cash on hand assuming we receive our tax receipts on time. This would equate to an 8% reserve. The State requires school districts to maintain reserves at no less than 25%.
- Are the threats of consolidation false?
Consolidation and dissolution are a matter of local choice that requires voter approval. They are amongst the options the Board of Education and community will have to consider if the referendum fails.
- Was the District recognized by the State for financial strength this year?
The State rates each school district’s financial strength every year. Ratings include financial recognition, review, warning, and watch, with recognition being the highest and watch the lowest. Financial data used to rate a school district is two years in arrears, so the recognition status was based on 2009-2010 data. District 31’s rating is projected to drop to financial warning by 2014-2015 and will continue to decline. School districts rated as financial warning are closely monitored by the State. If the State sees no upward improvement in District 31’s financial rating, it can intervene by assigning a Financial Oversight Panel that will make financial decisions for the District including budget cuts, staff reductions, and the issuance of bonds.
- Why is the ballot wording misleading?
District 31 has no choice in the ballot wording. The ballot wording is mandated by State law that does not take into account property tax multipliers greater than one. Since Cook County’s multiplier is 3.3, the $27 per $100,000 of market value noted in item #2 of the ballot must be multiplied by 3.3, making the actual estimated cost to taxpayers $89 per $100,000. District 31 has been informing its parents and community members of the $89 per $100,000 cost since before the Board formally voted to place the proposed tax rate increase question on the March 20th ballot.
- Is student enrollment projected to decrease from 850 to 736 through 2015?
These enrollment projections were completed in 2009-2010 and do not include the number of students who enroll in District 31 beginning in grade one. Kindergarten classes have increased by as much as 44% by the time the students reach grade 8. Currently, enrollment is at 872, the highest it has been in 5 years.
- How does Superintendent Nicholson’s salary and benefits compare to other elementary district superintendents?
Superintendent Nicholson’s salary and benefits are the lowest amongst all other superintendents in Northbrook, Northfield, and Glenview, and rank in the bottom quartile amongst 40 elementary superintendents in North Cook. Additionally, District 31 is the only elementary school district in Northbrook, Northfield, and Glenview that does not have a director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Dr. Nicholson serves the role of both superintendent and director.
- Why can’t District 31 take out bonds instead of getting a permanent tax rate increase?
District 31 needs an additional $1.55 million in annual revenue to maintain its current level of programs. Based on this need, a five-year bond of $3 million would last less than two years. Another bond would be needed before the first bond is paid off. Bonds also do not provide the funds needed for Allstate tax refunds.
If you have any further questions or would like more detailed information about any of the questions addressed above, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Alexandra Nicholson at 847-313-4418.
Dr. Alexandra Nicholson
Superintendent of Schools