D-155 approves budget, 45 contracts

District 155 Superintendent Steve Olson listens to public comments during a meeting of the District 155 school board meeting Jan. 24.
District 155 Superintendent Steve Olson listens to public comments during a meeting of the District 155 school board meeting Jan. 24.

The recently adopted, balanced 2019-20 budget for Community High School District 155 reflects more than $100 million in operating expenses. In all, 83.5% of the Education Fund will be spent on salaries and benefits, according to the budget posted on the district website.

The budget also makes adjustments for declining student population. Current enrollment is 5,808, down from 6,113 last year, according to district officials.

Salaries and benefits are up less than 1% from last year, a slight increase from $76,187,553 to $76,811,834, according to the budget.

“We’ve managed to produce balanced budgets now for five consecutive years,” said Jeremy Davis, assistant superintendent of finance and operations. “We’ve been able to do that while holding our operating tax levy flat multiple times. We’re proud of our record with regard to responsible taxation and money management.”

The district receives most of its income from property taxes. This year’s budget forecasts $101,163,396 in operating fund receipts, according to district officials. Property taxes make up about 72.7% of operating funds. State and federal revenue compose about 15% of district operating fund.

On May 21, the district also approved the contracts of 45 administrators, who are return employees, each reflecting a 3% increase. The 3% is designed to reflect cost of living and experience increases, Davis said.

In a June 27 Freedom of Information Act response sent to the Northwest Herald, the district revealed the details of those administrator contracts that were not previously divulged.

The contracts range from Sarah Schwartz, student services coordinator, who earns $103,768, to Assistant Superintendent-Educational Services Scott Shepard, who earns $169,947.

Assistant superintendent of finance and operations Jeremy Davis, who earns a salary of $157,313, has 25 days of vacation, 14 sick days and three personal days.

The special education division leader, Julie Deka, who earns $112,045 receives just 14 days of sick time and three personal days, according to the contracts provided by the school district.

The difference in time off is due to employees working 10 months vs. those who work 12 months.

The one-year contracts were approved in May and went into effect July 1.

The budget also includes the contracts for the teachers’ union and bus drivers.

The teachers’ union contract includes a less than 4% annual increase over three years. This agreement, approved in January, covers the salaries of 379 certified staff. Teachers’ base salaries range from $47,404 to $116,836. These base salaries would be increased by added duties such as working as a coach in the district. The lower end salaries would be that of a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree. The higher paid teachers would include a teacher who has more years of experience and additional, higher education. Teachers split the costs of their retirement and pension with the district, Davis said.

The transportation fund is budgeted for 2019-20 at $4.69 million, an increase of about 8% from last year. The increase is because of market adjustment for driver salaries and the purchase of new buses, a cost which is split between District 155 and Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47.

The budget, which went into effect July 1, anticipates declining enrollment, therefore reflects a decrease in district fees by 2.5%, a decline in state tax income by 2.5% and a slight decline in federal funding.

The school district operates four high schools Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge. It also operates Harber Oaks, an alternative education program at the Crystal Lake South site.

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