HUNTLEY – Teacher salary increases and a full slate of state payments are driving changes to District 158’s bottom line in 2014, under an $83.7 million budget being presented for final board approval Thursday.
The Huntley school district saw its spending increase by $2.3 million, primarily driven by $1.7 million in teacher salary increases as a part of the contract approved last year with the Huntley Education Association.
But District 158’s total budget is projected to be balanced at $83.7 million because officials for the first time in recent years are counting on the state to make $3.2 million in transportation and special education payments on time.
The district had budgeted conservatively for the categorical funding since the state would often lag behind on payment. But district officials changed their approach this year after the state made its categorical deadlines last year.
Overall, the budgetary changes are projected to leave the district with a roughly $5,000 surplus. The 2014 budget reflects conservative management that has enabled the district to initiate innovative technological programs during a time of economic uncertainty, Chief Financial Officer Mark Altmayer said.
“It is a very, very strong budget that helps us meet the continued needs and direction of the district,” Altmayer said.
District board members have supported the various financial drafts presented to them throughout this year’s budget planning cycle. The final version presented to them Thursday is relatively unchanged from the rough draft members unanimously approved last month.
The district’s projected surplus did drop by about $244,000 between the two versions. But Altmayer said he added roughly $225,000 in federal special education funding that had gone unspent from last year.
The continued conservative approach will allow the district to expand its emerging “One-to-One” program this year that will put more tablets in the hands of elementary students at Conley, Leggee and Martin, and sixth-graders at Marlowe to learn digital lessons in literacy, math and science, Altmayer said.
The year’s budget also supports the blended, online learning program at Huntley High School.
“Because we budgeted conservatively and have dollars in hand, we have been able to do great things with technology,” Altmayer said.
The district board meets at 7 p.m. to approve the 2014 budget. The public will have a chance to weigh in on the plan during a public hearing that kicks off the meeting.