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Yorkville School District 115 passes balanced 2020-2021 budget amid pandemic

Mike Vargas (center), director of business services for Yorkville School District 115, talks during the district's Monday, Sept. 28 Board of Education meeting at the Yorkville High School library.
Mike Vargas (center), director of business services for Yorkville School District 115, talks during the district's Monday, Sept. 28 Board of Education meeting at the Yorkville High School library.

YORKVILLE – Yorkville School District 115 is expected to have a balanced budget for the 2020-2021 school year amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The district's Board of Education voted, 7-0, during their Monday, Sept. 28 meeting to approve the budget for the current school year. Board secretary Ashley Shields attended the meeting remotely.

Mike Vargas, director of business services for the school district, said the district is anticipating an operating surplus of $1,255,839 and total budget surplus of $968,534. He said board policy says fund balances must be at least from 20% to 30% of annual revenues for those funds – however, the district is not in danger of falling below that threshold with the projected surplus.

“So with that being said, we are extremely happy to be bringing a balanced budget to the board for approval for the school year,” Vargas said.

The update comes after school district officials were expecting to spend less than anticipated due to the COVID-19 pandemic but were anticipating budget deficits if nothing changed prior to the Monday meeting.

Vargas said expected revenues have increased from the tentative budget by about $1.7 million, or by 1.83%.

“The biggest driver of that increase was the property tax revenue that we anticipate to collect during this school year,” with that expected collection percentage going from 98% to 99.2%, Vargas said.

Vargas said the district also anticipates receiving about $634,000 in total financial assistance from the state, which will serve as reimbursement of the district's total COVID-19 expenses.

However, Vargas said, the additional revenue will be offset by reduction in lunch sales, since students don't have to pay for lunch and there are less students on school grounds. He said revenues from lunch sales are expected to decrease by $739,000 from what was initially expected in the district's tentative budget.

Vargas said state evidence based funding, or about $15 million total, is expected to remain flat for this year. He said some of the budget assumptions also will depend on whether the fair tax legislation passes in November.

“If that does pass, we should expect to receive an additional $300,000 on top of that $15 million,” Vargas said.

Vargas said the district also expects a 0.38% increase in total expenses, or about $358,000, from what was previously anticipated in the tentative budget. He said some factors that went into that change included an increase of $713,000 in additional COVID-19 related staffing for the district.

“That includes custodians, health coordinators and self certification monitors,” Vargas said.

In addition to COVID-19 salaries and benefits, Vargas said, the district also is anticipating an additional $735,000 in COVID-19 related services and supplies. He said that makes COVID-19 expenses total at $1.4 million.

“But these expenses will be slightly offset … by the funds through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and through the CARES Act," Vargas said. "So we are looking at about a net $800,000 cost for our COVID-19 expenses this school year.”

Vargas said the district also plans to make principal and interest payments on 1,500 Chromebooks the district purchased, along with expenses related to a phone upgrade system. However, he said, the district will be saving about $185,000 in internet costs after switching from Comcast to Metronet.

Vargas said the district also is expecting to incur $100,000 in unemployment expenses due to claims being projected to increase because of pandemic-related job loss.

There were no additional public comments in person or via Zoom during the Monday meeting regarding the budget.

The school board also unanimously approved a non-referendum bonds resolution to declare the district's intention to issue $10 million in working cash fund bonds during the Monday meeting.

Tom Kozlowicz, Yorkville School District 115 Board of Education member, said he wanted to thank district staff for keeping the board informed about what was going on budget-wise this time around. He also wanted to thank them “for how diligent the staff worked to go ahead and get that balanced budget,” he said.

School board president Lynn Burks said she wanted district officials to keep in mind that the state still continues to handle their fiscal situation related to the pandemic.

“So we have to be prepared [for any changes], because they have not solved that fiscal situation,” Burks said.

Tim Shimp, superintendent for Yorkville School District 115, said administration will bring back the budget in the next few months to see how it may impact budget projections for the next three to five years.

"We anticipate a November presentation so the board can see where we are with budget assumptions long term – more long term than a year," Shimp said.

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