Waterloo schools will now have an idea of the revenues they will receive for the 2017-18 school year after the school board passed a budget Monday night.
The district estimates it will operate on a deficit of $434,032 for the year, with deficits in both the education fund ($68,087) and the operations and maintenance fund ($597,909). The transportation fund shows a surplus of $13,065.
The budget also shows the estimated fund balance at the end of the fiscal year, which comes out to $7,459,584. A public hearing during the board meeting began with Waterloo school superintendent Brian Charron explaining the nuances of the budget.
In explaining revenues and expenses projected, Charron said the district has planned for the worst case scenario.
“That is our best guess at a (worst case scenario) of what our fund balances will be as of June 30, 2018,” he said while pointing to line 81 of the budget. “We think we will do better.”
He also explained that the school district does not need a deficit reduction plan because direct revenues are not less than direct expenditures by an amount greater than or equal to one-third of the ending fund balance. In this case, the difference between the two categories is only $434,032, or 5.8 percent of the ending fund balance of $7,459,584.
Charron added he has been told by the state to expect full funding of general state aid under the new evidence-based funding formula, though how much state aid the district will receive has not yet been determined by the Illinois State Board of Education. The state had been prorating general state aid payments for years under the old formula.
“Even though (I said earlier), ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,’ I’m trusting that we will get all of it,” he said.
That includes receiving the two mandated categorical payments for special education and transportation the district did not receive last year. However, Charron warned that the district only anticipates receiving three of four mandated categorical payments — not lumped into the new formula — for the current school year.
Certain special education mandated categorical payments will now be distributed through the new formula while other special education payments will still be received quarterly. Transportation categorical payments from the state will also continue to be reimbursed on a quarterly basis outside of the formula.
Also during the meeting, Charron said Rogers Elementary was recently named a U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School.
“The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups,” the U.S. Department of Education states.
Rogers Elementary principal Brian Smith said he enjoyed sharing the news with some of his teachers and with Charron.
“It’s pretty special. We do a lot for our kids,” he said.
Charron said the way the district has been run in the last decade has created an environment for this kind of success.
“There’s been a philosophy in the district in the last five or 10 years — it has nothing to do with me, it’s before my time — where the schools have done a great job of focusing on student achievement,” he said, adding, “It is more than a reflection of the school. It is a reflection of the community as well.”
In other district news, Charron said costs incurred from the Waterloo High School cement pond’s malfunctioning auto-fill valve will not be covered by the district’s insurance. That leaves the district owing a little more than $20,000 to the city of Waterloo. The city did, however, credit the district $14,652.35 for the sewer portion of the bill.
Alongside that, an investigation by the maintenance staff concluded that the valve’s malfunction was caused by a calcium buildup. Charron said the district is choosing to manually fill the pond and not use the auto-fill valve.
“We’re not going to let a malfunctioning piece of equipment cost us that much again if we have control over that, and I believe in this case we do,” he said.
Charron also confirmed that the former Waterloo High School tennis courts at the intersection of Rogers Street and Hamacher Street are open to the public. Work on the courts included resealing cracks, repainting and restriping.
An experimental crack repair fabric was used on two of the four courts to test its longevity.