The Forest Park School District 91 Board of Education unanimously passed a budget for the 2024 fiscal year, projecting a $4.7 million deficit. 

Total budgeted revenue is a little more than $22.2 million, with total budgeted expenditures of more than $26.9 million, according to Robert Hubbird, assistant superintendent of finance and operations. There’s an estimated fund balance of $21 million.

“We overestimate our expenditures and they always come in the actuals a little bit lower, much lower than what we projected,” Hubbird said.

For the 2024 budget, 67.8% of expenditures will go toward instruction and instruction support, while 24.8% will go toward district operations, with 7.4% toward school and district leadership. 

Larger expenditures include $1.35 million for student outplacement tuition and $750,000 for the construction of the two STEAM labs that opened earlier this year. 

Additionally, $125,000 is allotted for an 8th grade trip, while $650,000 is allocated for the hiring of permanent substitute teachers. Hubbird said he believes the district has hired 11 permanent substitutes.

“We know there is a teacher shortage, so we were very proactive and looked to hire permanent subs this year,” Hubbird said at last month’s board meeting.

Hubbird added that while data for the year was not yet available, per pupil spending was higher in 2023 than 2022, in which District 91 spent more than $27,000 per student.

Hubbird also said that there remains Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding available for the district, with 2024 being the last year to utilize ESSER III funds. According to Hubbird, all ESSER II funds have been expended.

The 2024 budget expects 85.2% of collected revenue to be local, while 7.5% is state revenue and 7.4% is federal revenue. 

“We always underestimate our revenues, and they come in much higher, so that is a good thing,” Hubbird said. 

Referring to a slide outlining notable expenditures in the 2024 budget, like student outplacement tuition and the STEAM labs, board member Kyra Tyler said she thinks it “sums up our story” about what District 91 has been “trying really hard to do” in the last 12 to 18 months.

“I think a lot about all of the kids in our community who are not coming to our schools, and what I really want to say is to anybody who’s watching this or who likes to think our schools aren’t as good as they are, I really want people to look at this,” Tyler said.