Waterloo schools need state budget action - Republic-Times | News

Waterloo schools need state budget action

By on June 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm

District finances once again became the highlight of Monday’s Waterloo school board meeting, as the local and state governments continually fail to provide timely financial relief.

This year may prove worse than last as schools in the area look at the possibility of not opening without a state budget. The legislature has about a week to pass a budget before the June 30 fiscal year deadline.

“To a certain extent, I want to express that we are partners with schools in the region,” Waterloo school superintendent Brian Charron told the board. “If other schools can’t open, there will be no money flowing to (the Perandoe Special Education Cooperative). If the special education cooperative can’t open, I don’t see how we can open.”

Charron said Perandoe constitutes one example of the services that would be unavailable to the district if some of the area schools don’t open in the fall. As of now, the district plans to open Aug. 15 for the upcoming school year.

“In my opinion, we’re going to have to consider pulling that off the table,” Charron said.

Of course, Charron said if the state gets a budget together in time, starting school will not be of concern, whereas the issue of not receiving property tax revenue in time is both immediate and certain.

The Monroe County Assessor’s Office did not finish property tax assessments for 2016 until the first week of April, causing a delay in the receipt of property tax revenue for schools in the county.

The assessments appeared in the April 5 edition of the Republic-Times.

Charron said Waterloo will not receive this revenue — which accounts for 76 percent of the district’s budget — until mid-to-late October.

The board voted to approve a temporary interfund loan of $200,000 from the working cash fund to the tort fund because of this delay and to pay the district’s insurance bill due July 1. The tort fund pays for legal fees such as liability insurance.

“The tort fund is 100 percent funded by property tax payments,” Charron said last year when a similar decision was made by the board.

Once the property tax revenue comes in, the district will repay the working cash fund. A tentative multiplier was recently issued, but a final multiplier must be issued before property tax bills can go out to residents.

Charron also informed the public the district is looking into a cost-saving alternative for the former Waterloo High School tennis courts. According to Charron, the architect proposing this alternative will do a site visit to see if the alternative is a viable solution. Initial estimates for repairs came out to between $300,000 and $500,000 — costs that were hard for the board to swallow.

“Our goal is not to get rid of the courts, but to do the right thing with tax dollars meant for the school district,” Charron said.

Renee Ades of the American Heart Association addressed the board about the effort that went into this year’s Waterloo fundraising for the AHA. In total, Zahnow, Garner, Rogers and Waterloo Junior High combined raised more than $100,000.

“It just makes my job so much better knowing all of you and how much you’ve invested in the students,” Ades said.

The board took action on several personnel items during the meeting. Ashley Jarden will serve as the full-time licensed practical nurse at Zahnow Elementary effective Aug. 1. Kim Buettner, a 26-year Waterloo teacher who currently teaches at Zahnow, will retire in 2021.

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years. email:sean@republictimes.net