CRYSTAL LAKE – Student registration fees will increase for the 2014 school year at Crystal Lake School District 47 as it tries to combat a continuing decline in state support and the rising cost of education and maintenance.
After remaining materially unchanged for 20 years, registration and facility rental fees at District 47 will begin to increase toward county-wide averages in an effort to support educational and maintenance costs.
The board-approved fees for the 2014-15 school year will increase preschool registration costs from $50 to $60; kindergarten costs will increase from $40 to $48; elementary school costs will increase from $60 to $72; and middle school fees will increase the most from $75 to $90.
Rental fees for gymnasiums will increase to $22 an hour and $15 an hour for multipurpose rooms and cafeterias.
Board president Jeff Mason said the board saw an opportunity to shift more cost to users after seeing the district had the lowest registration fees in the county. He said it would take about five years of increases to pull even with the average.
“We’ll look at it separately each year,” Mason said of future increases, noting they would not always be as large. “We’re not going to move them above the average for the county.”
Increases were pursued in part because of five-year projections showing the district will likely run deficits. Deficits – once projected to hit $587,692 by the 2017-18 school year – would be curtailed with the registration fee increases as well as postponement to major projects such as one-to-one iPad deployment, early childhood classroom expansion and building and air conditioning improvements.
With the adjustments, District 47 is now expected to have a $181,000 surplus in 2014-15 and gradually reduce deficits in following years until it is roughly $91,600 in the 2017-18 school year instead of the originally projected $587,692.
While the financial moves will help, District 47 chief financial officer Kevin Werner warned unknown variables could cause more budgetary damage. He said the looming pension reform, decline in General State Aid and transportation reimbursements and outcome of the next teachers’ contract could all increase deficits.
The state’s decision to prorate General State Aid at 88.7 percent this year was significantly higher than the district’s conservative estimates, increasing the district’s operating fund surplus from an initially projected $182,009 to $644,141. It helped the district turn an overall deficit across the four major funds into a small surplus.