Financial Projections for the RI Schools

January  15, 2014

      The Rock Island school board will have to make some difficult decisions in the coming years. Tuesday night, chief financial officer Bob Beckwith presented his 5-year financial projections for the district.

      He predicts the deficit next year (2014-15) will be 2 million dollars, and grow to more than 8 million for the 2018 2019 school year. That's because property values in the district will probably drop for another two years, and then eventually begin to recover, but slowly. And state aid will probably not increase much, if at all, in the near future. 

      "One of the major factors in our expenses is about 85 per cent of our expenses are in staff, between salaries and benefits. So there's not a lot of room for reductions outside of staff to balance the budget, if the board chooses to have a balanaced budget."

      Beckwith says one of the key financial problems is Illinois now only gives schools 87 per cent of the official state aid level.

      "If general state aid was not pro-rated, and we would receive the amount of money we're entitled to by state statute, that's an additional  1.8 million dollars in general state aid we're losing on an annual basis. So if that number were added back into our projections, we'd basically have a balanced budget at this point."

      Property taxes account for about 41 per cent of the Rock Island district's revenue, while state aid accounts for 40 per cent, and federal grants 19 per cent.