Opening of the 2017-2018 School Year

Classes began Tuesday for more than 7,500 students. We look forward to another excellent year in academics, athletics, fine and performing arts, and other school activities. The District’s teachers, psychologists, social workers, counselors, speech therapists, physical and occupational therapists, and administrators are members of an enthusiastic teaching and support staff who are ready to present children with new academic challenges in safe and secure learning environments this year.

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District 7 employees had a very busy summer preparing for the first week of classes. As with any successful organization, it was a team effort. I want to thank the many groups of employees who are responsible for helping the District prepare for an outstanding opening to the 2017-2018 school year:

The District’s maintenance, custodial, and grounds staffs have worked tirelessly since the first day of summer break to ensure that grounds are in top shape, that schools are clean and ready for students and staff, and that all equipment and systems are working efficiently.

Central office administrators conducted professional development workshops for both newly hired teachers and reassigned staff so that each person is ready to give his/her best to students.

Teachers devoted many hours to preparing classrooms so that students will have engaging and nurturing learning environments.

In addition to providing the necessary school supplies, parents prepared their children with positive attitudes toward learning.

I will be visiting classrooms over the next couple of weeks and look forward to seeing our students and teachers actively engaged in learning.

School Funding Uncertainties

The status of school funding for Illinois schools continues to receive a significant amount of media attention. I want to again reassure District 7 parents that schools in the Edwardsville School District will remain open during the 2017-2018 school year. This is possible because District 7 is highly dependent on local property tax revenues to fund its operations and instructional programs. While District 7 had to borrow funds as a result of the failure of the State of Illinois to pay financial obligations during the 2016-2017 school year, it will have sufficient funds to operate through March 2018 before borrowing again.

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Despite the passage of the first state budget in over two years, Illinois schools do not know how much funding they will receive from General State Aid for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The General Assembly and the Governor still must to come to an agreement on a new evidenced-based funding formula (Senate Bill 1) to distribute money to public schools.

I will keep parents and constituents apprised of new developments and their impact on District 7 through the Superintendent’s Comments e-mails and postings and through Focus on Finance segments which will restart in September.

Display of 2017-2018 Tentative Budget

At Monday night’s meeting, the Board of Education approved the display of the tentative 2017-2018 budget beginning on Thursday, August 24, 2017, in order to meet the requirements of the Illinois School Code. Public hearing dates for the 2017-2018 budget will be held on Monday, September 25, 2017; the administration will review the tentative 2017-2018 budget with the Finance Committee on Monday, August 28, 2017.

In addition to the State funding uncertainties, the District does not have estimated federal funding allocations for Title I for the 2017-2018 school year since the required grant application has not yet been released. District 7 typically receives approximately $600,000 each year which funds the salaries and supplies for elementary reading specialists.

The District is also projected to lose all Title II federal funding for the 2017-2018 school year due to the President’s proposed elimination of the program. District 7 receives approximately $200,000 in Title II federal funds annually to offset the salaries and benefits of three teachers and provide staff training opportunities.

The District is still projecting between a $2 and $3 million budget deficit in the Education Fund for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. This would increase the Education Fund operating debt (negative fund balance) to between $7 and $8 million at the end of this year as was projected several years ago. The District will receive the additional revenue as a result of the passage of Proposition E beginning next July and will begin aggressively paying down the Education Fund debt as promised.

Payment on Borrowing (Tax Anticipation Warrants)

On Friday, July 28, the District was able to pay $2 million of the $4 million borrowing of Education Fund Tax Anticipation Warrants to TheBank of Edwardsville. The total interest cost on this $2 million was $5,315.07.

The property tax disbursement received on July 21 was not large enough to allow the repayment of the remaining $2 million in Education Fund Tax Anticipation Warrants or the $1 million in Transportation Fund Tax Anticipation Warrants. It is expected that these warrants will be paid before the end of August.

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