D209 Passes First-Ever 5-Year Financial Plan

Monday, April 22, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Featured image: A chart showing D209’s projected year-end operating fund balances. | Courtesy D209

During a regular meeting on April 9, the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 Board of Education voted 6-0 in favor of authorizing a 5-year Financial Plan for the district — a first for D209, district administration officials said. Board member Della Patterson abstained.

District 209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez said that the board directed his administration to create a plan that guides the funding of the district’s recently approved facilities master plan and that doesn’t increase taxes.

“You do have a very ambitious goal and I think that we have exceeded that expectation,” Rodriguez told board members on April 9.

The plan, district officials said, will ensure that additional funding goes to professional development, athletic programs, support for special education programs, the development of career academies at Proviso East and Proviso West, the implementation of the district’s 1:1 Technology Plan and more opportunities for students to recover credits during the school day, among other priorities.

Nicole Howard, D209’s assistant superintendent for Academics and Student and Family Services, said to the school board on March 12 that the aforementioned funding areas are typically the first to get cut when school districts start tightening their belts. The 5-year plan, she said, allows for fiscal discipline without cutting those areas.

District officials have said that the plan is based on relatively stable student and staff enrollment projections through the 2023-24 school year. Student enrollment is projected to decline slightly at East and West, and across the district as a whole, while enrollment at Proviso Math and Science Academy is projected to increase.

“This way, more students have a greater menu of options to pursue excellence within PTHS D209,” district officials explained in the Financial Plan’s executive summary.

Enrollment at East is projected to go from 1,561 in 2019-20 to 1,446 in 2023-24, a 7 percent decline, while the number of full-time equivalent positions at the school is projected to decrease from 114 in 2019-20 to 111 in 2023-24.

Enrollment at West is projected to go from 1,732 in 2019-20 to 1,1606 in 2023-24, a 7 percent decline, while the number of full-time equivalent positions at the school is projected to decrease from 121 in 2019-20 to 111 in 2023-24.

Enrollment at PMSA is projected to go from 877 in 2019-20 to 960 in 2023-24, a 9.5 percent increase, while the number of full-time equivalent positions at the school is projected to increase from 54 in 2019-20 to 60 in 2023-24.

Enrollment across the district is projected to go from 4,169 in 2019-20 to 4,011 in 2023-24, a 4 percent decrease, while the number of full-time equivalent positions in the district is projected to decrease from 289 in 2019-20 to 282 in 2023-24.

Enrollment projections at District 209 through 2024. | Courtesy D209

Based on existing collective bargaining agreements with the district’s three unions, annual salary increases for faculty and all other staff are projected to grow at 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, for the next five fiscal years. Annual employee benefits are projected to increase by 5 percent for fiscal year 2020-21 and 6 percent for the 2022 through 2024 fiscal years. The district’s payments to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund are projected to be “relatively flat,” officials said.

The Financial Plan’s “operational goals’ are to manage resources at the district based on class size target ratios of 30:1 at PMSA and 25:1 at East and West.

According to the plan, the district is on track to accumulate approximately $77 million for capital improvement projects by the end of fiscal year 2024. An additional $25 million in bonding capacity could be possibly by fiscal year 2025, officials said.

The plan also projects annual fund balance surpluses ranging between $4 million and $6 million through fiscal year 2024, when the year-end balance is projected to be at around $32.3 million — 36 percent of expenditures for that year.

The Financial Oversight Panel, a state-appointed advisory body that has overseen the district’s finances since 2009, had recommended that the school board implement the 5-year Financial Plan if it ever wanted the FOP to dissolve.

During the April 9 meeting, board member Sam Valtierrez asked Rodriguez if the FOP would exit the district now that the 5-year Financial Plan is in place.

“Are we done with the FOP?” Valtierrez asked.

“We had a conversation with the FOP at the last meeting, which is to be continued,” Rodriguez said on April 9, adding that the FOP is “impressed” with the plan and with the financial controls the district has in place.

“We did have conversations about a limited partnership,” Rodriguez said. “Perhaps we can sit down with the two boards and [think about] where we go from here. [The FOP] is interested in having the conversation with us about how the structure will look like in the future.” VFP

To access the full 5-year Financial Plan, click here.

Contact: thevillagefreepress@gmail.com | Facebook: @maywoodnews

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