Dixon Public Schools Board approves $41.2M budget: ‘We’re in a much better place now’

Dixon board OKs balanced budget

An aerial view of Dixon High School on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in Dixon.

DIXON – The Dixon Public Schools Board approved its fiscal 2024 budget, with its business manager pointing out the district’s financial health has improved over the past few years.

The board approved the budget at Wednesday night’s meeting after a public hearing and a presentation from district business manager Marc Campbell.

“This is a balanced budget,” he said “That’s always an important aspect of what it is you’re trying to do. Some of you may not necessarily realize this. It’s really just been in the last three or four years that the district has improved enough financially that we have not had to draw down investments at the end of the year or utilize working cash in some manner to cover general operating expenses.

“And as we’ve been doing that the last three or four years, or should I say not having to do that, we’ve had a great opportunity to also grow our fund balances, and we’ve moved into more positive financial scoring.”

Expected revenue is set at $42 million in the fiscal 2024 budget, with expenses budgeted at $41.2 million. Budgeted revenue is on the lower end, and expenses are budgeted on the higher side, Campbell said.

Transportation contract services are budgeted at $2.9 million. The reason that is a significant number for the board is because the contract is up later this year, he said.

Campbell said there are three areas the district will continue to monitor closely this year. They include:

1. An expected corporate personal property replacement tax revenue reduction.

“Our fund balances have grown,” Campbell said. “We have been able to expand, do more projects, pay bills, grow cash balances as a result of significant CRPPT funds that have come to us over the last couple years.”

He said the state’s reduction in those funds, about $2 million for DPS, will have a significant effect on the day-to-day operations of the district.

“We will be closely monitoring the actual receipts we get for CCPRT and keep you informed of that,” Campbell said.

2. Rising health insurance benefit costs.

“We have continued to see an increase in not just the cost of health insurance from an inflationary perspective but also a volume of claims for the district,” he said.

Campbell said the reserves were eaten through last year for a variety of reasons.

“This year we’ve actually budgeted to include not just the increase for more claims and the inflationary increase but also a reserve increase on a monthly basis,” he said “So we’re expecting that number to be significantly higher this year than what it’s been in the past few years.”

3. Capital expenditures.

“Over the last couple of years, as county facility sales tax has grown, we have built up a reserve in that fund,” Campbell told the board. “In addition to that, we’ve been working to build a reserve in our health life safety fund, and we’ve had an opportunity to grow reserves in working cash. All of these are options for capital expenditures, and with the new Nachusa campus, we’re going to be closely monitoring our capital expenditures across the district.

“What it is [is] we are spending out there and really working from a perspective of balancing the cash as it comes in, with the cash going out as it relates to capital expenditures.”

Board member Melissa Gates praised Campbell for his attention to detail and for bringing the district to a more financially healthy position.

“Thank you for getting us financially stable,” Gates said. “I know our score when I came in wasn’t that great. We were really having issues with that, and we’re in a much better place now.”

“It’s easy to get in a better place when more money is coming in,” Campbell said.

Under state law, school boards are required to approve a budget by Sept. 30, Campbell said.

The board approved the budget with a unanimous vote.

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.