D181 finances promising in forecast

Even with the added expense of remodeling a new district office and adding full-day kindergarten in 2025, Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 finances are expected to remain sound over the next five years.

District year-end fund balances for 2024 are projected to total $39.5 million, or 54 percent of operating expenses. That figure is expected to contract to about 47.6 percent of operating expenses by fiscal year 2029, according to Mindy Bradford, assistant superintendent of business and operations. She presented the updated five-year financial forecast at Monday’s board meeting.

“It’s something that we look at all the time. We’re always trying to update our assumptions,” she told board members.

Additional expenses for full-day kindergarten include about $19.2 million in building additions and renovations, up to $250,000 for additional curriculum resources and materials and $60,000 for furniture and fixtures for existing classrooms. Extending the day for kindergartners will require the district to hire an additional 12.5 teachers and four classified staff members.

The district also will spend $5.7 million in fiscal year 2025 on master facility plan expenses, which includes renovating the new district headquarters on Ogden Avenue. In subsequent years, master facility plan expenses fall to $2.7 million and then $2.4 million.

Expenses related to the five-year technology plan average about $1 million over the next five years, and textbook adoption costs will range from about $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

The district expects to see a 9-percent increase in PPO/HMO insurance premiums and an 8-percent increase for high deductible health plans in FY 2025.

On the revenue side, the consumer price index that is used to calculate the increase in the December property tax levy is 3.4 percent.

The district projects that CPI will be closer to 2.5 percent in subsequent years of the forecast.

“We believe it’s going to come down and modulate and be closer to what the 10-year average is,” Bradford said.

Many sources of revenue are expected to remain flat, including registration fees, the corporate personal property replacement tax and federal and state aid.

The district is considered Tier 4 by the state, which means it is a well-resourced district, Bradford said.

“The state will not be giving us additional money to fund full-day kindergarten because we are Tier 4,” she said.

Interest on investments, projected at $1.7 million for FY 2025, are expected to drop to $1.2 million.

“It’s a significant add to the district that we certainly expect to come down over time as interest rates modulate,” Bradford said.

The forecast assumes the district will continue to abate $2 million annually to taxpayers, using money from the operating fund rather than property taxes to make debt repayments.

Staff will continue to refine the numbers in the forecast, Bradford said. A 1-percent change in the CPI, for example, means $800,000 in revenue for the district.

“I think we did a good bottom-up approach this year across as many line items as we could,” she said. “I think this puts us in great shape for our upcoming tentative budget process.”

Superintendent Hector Garcia praised her and other staff members for their work.

“Everybody does a good job of making sure numbers are as accurate as possible,” Garcia said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean