The Illinois State Board of Education ranked Proviso Township High School District 209’s financial status in its highest category last year, an auditor told the school board at their Dec. 10 meeting. 

Auditor Brett Mathieson of Mathieson, Moyski & Celer & Co. LLP, said the district’s Financial Profile Scores have risen to the highest category awarded by the ISBE.

For fiscal years 2010-12, the district was categorized in the “Financial Recognition” category — the ISBE’s top level — with a 3.8 score out of a possible 4.

Mathieson said the scores have dramatically increased since 2007, when the district was on the lowest “watch” category with a rating of 2.3.

The district petitioned the ISBE in December 2008 to install a Financial Oversight Panel. Since then, the district has been on the path to rebuilding finances. Mathieson said the district had a fund balance of more than $9 million at the end of 2012.  

The state evaluates every district in five categories: fund balance-to-revenue ratio, expenditure-to-revenue ratio, the number of days cash-on-hand, percent of short-term borrowing ability remaining, and the percent of long-term debt margin remaining.

According to the state, the fund balance-to-revenue ratio of the district was 25 percent or greater in FY 2012. The district was found to be spending 96 cents for every dollar in revenue, putting it in the black. The district was found to have 131 days of cash on hand, up from 101 in 2011 and 90 in 2010. 

According to the state, the maximum amount of short-term debt the district may incur is $40.8 million as of 2012. This is important since the district has embarked on life-safety repairs that have been deferred for years. Finally, the amount of long-term debt the district could incur was determined to be $52.4 million. In 2007, the district had maxed out in both long-term and short-term debt, the ISBE website said.  

No rise in high school student fees 

The D209 board voted against increasing student fees next year. The district had recommended increasing fees to $790 from $640 and proposed raising the registration fee $300 by adding a parking fee of $50 and raising band, athletic, and activity fees and summer school tuition. The district argued that revenue generated by fees could offset reduced funds from the state and federal government. They also said student fees had held steady for the past seven years.

But board member Teresa Kelly led the charge to keep fees the same, supported by the other members. Kelly said the district set the comparison of school fees too widely by including districts like Homewood-Flossmoor where the socio-economic profile of families doesn’t compare with Proviso communities. 

Students can receive an income-based waiver to avoid paying the fees, said Supt. Nettie Collins-Hart.  

But because the district has a surplus, the board voted to keep fees the same.

Proviso Parent University returns

The district told the board they are planning an encore of Parent University, Feb. 1, for parents of district students. 

The Saturday morning event will present six workshops: Completing the FAFSA (a hands-on workshop), financial aid for college, trade schools or certificate programs, transition to high school (for middle-school parents), resources available for your child, helping your child love to learn and the Common core Curriculum, and helping students with disabilities. Sessions will be offered in English and Spanish.

Once again the event will be sponsored and guided by a committee representing Triton College, the Community Alliance, Loyola University Medical Center, Neighborhood United Methodist Church, Casa Esperanza, the Need to Know Group, and the Resurrection Project. 

Parent University takes place 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Proviso Math and Science Academy, 8601 W. Roosevelt Rd., Forest Park.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...