While legislators in the state struggle to develop a working budget, District 91 continues as best they can to work conservatively within a budget and begin making tentative financial plans for the next fiscal year.
At the district's regular school board meeting on April 13, Ed Brophy, assistant superintendent of operations, updated the board on the status of district finances since his last report in February. He previously noted Illinois was behind on making roughly $350,000 in mandated categorical grant payments to the district, and the total owed to the district is now approximately $536,000.
In February, Brophy shared the importance of the district's reserve funds helping keep finances afloat during the state budget crisis and mentioned the district would most likely receive less than 50 percent of payments on time by the end of the fiscal year. This time, he said it looks as though there will be at least a few payments made by the end of the fiscal year.
"Our budgeted revenue for our education fund is $12.5 million. Because we have not gotten any of the payments of our mandated categorical grants, there is the possibility that we could actually fall short of that, so I want you to know that now," said Brophy, who added that he is working on scheduling a district finance meeting to adjust the district's fund balance and travel expense policies to make sure expectations are clearly outlined in both for the future. He also noted a tentative district budget would be presented to the board in July with a pro-rated allocation for general state aid.
"That's the only state revenue we're going to budget in our tentative budget," he said. "Because we haven't gotten any revenue this year, we might as well see what it looks like because we can change it before we adopt it in September of next fiscal year."
In his monthly report, Superintendent Louis Cavallo told the board that after working to finalize plans for this year's summer school program, the agenda would be slated for board approval at next month's board meeting.
Cavallo said summer school this year will have a "laser focus" on students with Tier 3, or high priority, behavioral and educational needs. The goal will be for faculty to adhere to strict assessments that continue well into the fall months to more accurately track student progress and not allow it to decline with the start of a new school year.
Additionally, he mentioned that a director with the West Cook YMCA — based in Oak Park but also serving District 91 families — approached him a few weeks back to see if the district would be willing to participate in special summer education programs through special grant funding in conjunction with the YMCA and neighboring school districts in Oak Park and River Forest.
While the summer school program for the district is already staffed and ready to go, Cavallo expressed his interest in exploring the program for 2018.
"The things I like about this is that it's very structured on what's going to occur, between social time, a 90-minute block for literacy, 90-minute block for math and then 120 minutes of enrichment," he said. "[This] includes many things we hear parents talking about, including leadership development, STEM, the arts, health and fitness."
Cavallo told the board that while much of the grant funding and resources provided by the YMCA would be specifically slated for Title I programs, the YMCA would explore the possibility of collaborating with high population schools in the Oak Park/River Forest neighborhoods out of sheer necessity.
As done each year, the school board had the opportunity to evaluate Cavallo on a scale of 1-4 on 10 different criteria in his role as superintendent, 1 being unsatisfactory and 4 being excellent.
According to board President Mary Win Connor overall, Cavallo received an average score of 3.29 from board members.
Other board meeting minutes to note:
•All board members (except for Kim Rostello, who was absent), approved June 2 as the official school closing date, should the district not have to use any emergency closing days.