News & Highlight
Growing the Future: School board approves $15.5 million bond sale to help stabilize district's financial future
To Our Community,
As school districts are in the midst of arguably the most difficult and uncertain economic times, we want to assure you that the Crete-Monee School District is committed to maintaining fiscal stability, improving operational efficiency and enhancing educational opportunities for our students in the following ways:
ADDRESSING FISCAL STABILITY:
The District is in the second year of a major effort to reduce annual deficits and move towards balanced budgets. The District’s expenditure reduction and efficiency plan enacted in 2014 has resulted in the District decreasing its annual deficit from $4.8 million in fiscal year 2014 to $2.2 million in fiscal year 2015 and to under $1 million in fiscal year 2016 (projected).
The District will continue to examine all areas of operations with the goal of achieving and maintaining balanced budgets. In addition to a growing focus on balanced budgets, fiscal uncertainty forces all school districts to focus on preserving fund balance reserves to best ensure both fiscal and academic stability as the District. It is this focus that prompted the decision to utilize bond proceeds rather than fund balance reserves to pay for the costs associated with the Middle School addition. Taking $15.5 million from fund balance reserves would have placed the District in a vulnerable financial situation that would have put programs and staffing levels in jeopardy.
The decision to issue additional debt was a difficult decision as evidenced by the fact that approximately a dozen public meetings were held prior to the final decision. The decision was not made without compromise as the District (1) ultimately elected not to borrow funds for the major capital projects that must be addressed in other buildings and (2) the District restructured a portion of its prior debt to ensure that the annual tax levy would not exceed the levy that was in place in 2014. Note that prior to this bond issue the tax levy would have increased in excess of $5 million from 2015 to 2023. Taxes will increase modestly after 2023, but at a level 85% below the 2014 level.
IMPROVING OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY:
The District is in the process of constructing an addition to the Middle School that will not only improve District infrastructure, but will result in operational efficiencies that will take additional strain off of future years’ budgets. Once the addition is completed, the Sixth Grade Center will close and all sixth graders will be brought to the Middle School. This will eliminate the significant costs needed to maintain, operate and upgrade the Sixth Grade Center, providing hundreds of thousands of dollars of annual savings to the District.
ENHANCING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES:
The plan to move all sixth graders into the expanded Middle School will produce enhanced educational opportunities to the students of Crete-Monee School District 201-U including: (1) reducing the number of educational transitions for all students in our District, (2) allowing the District to greatly expand our successful International Baccalaureate Program for all sixth graders in the District and (3) allowing for greater collaboration and synergies in our academic programming at that critical grade level.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER:
The District is focused on making major decisions under the guideposts of maintaining fiscal stability and enhancing educational opportunities in the midst of extremely difficult and uncertain times. The District has shown this commitment by dramatically reducing the annual deficit over the past two years and by maintaining a focus on improving the quality of our buildings, our technology and our programs. A successful and stable school district is good for all stakeholders, especially our students.