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West Aurora budget woes causing concern

Updated: March 7, 2013 6:32AM

The West Aurora Board of Education received more bad news on Monday evening regarding budgeting for the next school year.

Cash flow for the district could dip to about $4 million in May of next year, after being as high as $40 million last October, according to projected numbers from Treasurer George Malina. He equated the district’s cash flow shortage to a family with about $1,500 to its name.

“That’s a broken car,” he said. “It’s not much.”

Chief Financial Officer Christi Tyler added that the district has $477,465 in outstanding registration fees. Those are fees accrued over the last five years from families that haven’t paid their fees, not fees waived by the district.

They waived an additional $800,000 this year, Tyler said.

“Even if you don’t pay your fees, we still have to educate your children,” Tyler said.

Board member Angie Smith suggested requiring families who have their fees waived go through a stricter application process.

Tyler noted that the $477,465 figure would equate to roughly eight new teacher salaries.

Three union contracts are up between now and when next fiscal year’s budget needs to be finalized in June. Salaries are where the district can regain the most ground in any budget shortfall, officials said.

“The biggest thing will be watching the negotiations,” she said.

Board member Mark Bradford expressed concern about the decline in cash flow projected for next year, and the state’s unreliability for funding the district.

“The unknown from the state could push us closer to zero,” he said.

With the state’s bond rating recently being downgraded, the situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. Illinois has not done a very good job addressing its fiscal challenges, and that may have an impact on the district, Malina said.

Superintendent James Rydland said that all of the districts administrators will be reviewing their spending for the next year. There are some things that the district will not be able to do next year, he said.

“We’re now at a crossroads where we have to look at everything,” he said.

Rydland said he wants to make sure that the community is aware of the situation, and that the district is doing everything within its power not to let the funding shortfall impact student learning.

“We now have a challenge ahead of us, and we have to make sure we educate the community,” he said.

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