BPS101 on Shaky Financial Ground

The Illinois State Board of Education’s annual assessment of the financial health of the state’s school districts downgraded Batavia to “Early Warning”. The Chicago Tribune organized the data and lists Batavia as the 14th worst school district in the Chicago area.

This revelation comes as the School Board has been discussing its financial future, with a negative 5-yr forecast (see agendas for March 8 and February 23 meetings).

They assume that every year they will increase our taxes by the maximum allowed by law (CPI or 5%, whichever is less). But still that is not enough to avoid deficit spending.

All the administration has offered to fix the problem is to reduce staffing through attrition (not replacing those who leave or retire) by 10 teachers, 2 administrators, and 3 assorted personnel in 2017, and 3.5 teachers in future years. They’re banking on declining enrollment to prevent class size increases.

Two proposals that could significantly affect the forecast were offered by Board member John Dryden at the March 8 meeting: slowing lane* changes and eliminating division coordinators**. Neither was seriously considered. The Board kicked the cans down to committees.

 

*lanes–part of the “step-and-lane” system of teacher pay.  Every year of employment, a teacher gets a “step” pay increase. After completing a number of hours in graduate-level courses, a teacher changes to a higher-paying “lane” where she continues to get yearly step increases.  A step increase in Batavia averages around 3%; a step + lane increase can be as high as 10.8%. See charts here.

**There are 4 division coordinators at the high school, 3 at the middle school. Other school districts select teachers as department heads instead of hiring the added administrative layer of division coordinators.

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