For the first time in several years, the Indian Prairie School District is not searching for cuts as it assembles its new budget.
On Monday, the Indian Prairie School Board passed a tentative budget for the upcoming year that includes millions of dollars in curriculum, infrastructure and security upgrades.
This year’s proposed budget is not balanced, however. It includes nearly $3.2 million in deficit spending, $2.5 million of which has already been approved to pay for technology upgrades. But, according to Indian Prairie’s financial manager Jay Strang, the deficit in the budget will be covered with money the district already has on hand.
Even with doing that, the district’s fund balances will remain at a healthy 31.8 percent of yearly expenditures, Strang said.
Indian Prairie is in particularly good shape this year after additional payments from the State of Illinois — bringing the state up to date on backlogged bills — and a budget that assumed that Indian Prairie would receive less in General State Aid than Springfield has since promised.
“People may see we are deficit spending, but really we are only deficit spending $665,000,” School Board member Mark Rising said, referring to the spending over and above what had already been approved and allocated to technology expenditures. “These are things that we need to do, that are long overdue. This is not money that’s affecting the financial sustainability of our district. When you get extra money you take care of the things you need to take care of.”
The Indian Prairie School Board plans to take advantage of the money available by tackling some upgrades around the district.
Roughly $1.2 million will be dedicated to curriculum needs, especially preparing the district to roll out the Common Core curriculum over the next several years. Another $3.7 million will be used for maintenance and repairs around the district that had been put off during the past few years’ budget crunch.
And another $700,000 will be used for security upgrades in schools throughout the district. In September, all of the district’s schools will be outfitted with Raptor systems, a security system that requires all visitors to check into the schools with drivers licenses or state IDs, which are then scanned against child predator databases. Other security upgrades include cameras at the schools’ main entrances and programmable doorways that will allow teachers and vendors access at preset times.
The school board unanimously passed the tentative budget, which will go on display Thursday on Indian Prairie’s website, www.ipsd.org.
The budget hearing and final approval of the budget is set for Sept 23.