Rockford Public Schools administrators have identified ways to halt a projected budget shortfall for the current fiscal year, FY 2015. District administrators shared the news of the shortfall with the School Board, department leaders and principals late last week. Budget adjustments for the current fiscal year will not affect employment for the rest of the school year, and the hope is to minimally affect schools.
The district faces an $8.8 million projected shortfall. Officials have identified $5.8 million worth of reductions identified for the rest of this fiscal year. Less than 10 percent of that total, or $540,000, will come from schools. Other adjustments include delaying computer upgrades, freezing purchases, transferring expenses, cutting the central office budget and other reductions. Another $2 million will come from budget areas that did better than forecasted. The remaining $1 million shortfall is earmarked for HR purposes. The FY 2015 budget was approved with this one-time spending plan in mind for a time-keeping system.
$8.8M projected shortfall
- $5.8M in adjustments/freezes
- $2M in favorable budget variance
- $1M earmarked for HR time-keeping purchase
"This is not a situation we’re happy about, but it’s one we have to deal with,” said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. “We’re committed to break even this fiscal year and not run a deficit. It’s important to the School Board, my administrative team and the taxpayers in this community that we live within our means and still provide the best possible services for our students.”
In November, audit results revealed that RPS 205 ended its previous budget cycle with a nearly $9M deficit, which is a less than a 3 percent variance from the adopted budget. The deficit did not result in program cuts or reprimands from the state.
Since FY07, RPS has run a surplus every year but one. In FY10, the state cut back on its payment schedule to districts statewide and RPS was shorted $11M. The district’s unaudited reserve balance remains at approximately $109.7M for all operating funds – above the School Board’s designated 25 percent.