PBL school board places amended budget on public display


PAXTON — Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board members voted last Wednesday to put an amended 2017-18 fiscal year budget on public display before final approval takes place next month.

Superintendent Cliff McClure said the district is ahead of this year’s budget, but the amended budget shows that PBL will end the year about $208,000 in the red if no additional funding is received. McClure did estimate that the district would break even for the year.

“We’re running ahead of that number, but you always have contingencies in place,” McClure said. “I would expect that we will break even or better this year in our budget.”

According to McClure, the new budget accounts for changes in the district’s education, operations and maintenance, transportation and site and construction funds.

Changes in the education fund include increased estimated revenues for state funding based on the state’s new evidence-based funding formula and special-education categoricals, and in the school lunch program.

The new budget recommends transferring money from the education fund to the transportation fund, along with decreasing some line items. McClure said the district was expected to receive its first transportation categorical payment last week — one of four that it receives each school year.

This year is not the first time that the district has funded its transportation fund using money taken out of the education fund, and McClure said that it would have to end at some point.

“We cannot continue propping up the transportation fund with our education fund,” McClure said. “It’s just not going to work out.”

Changes in the operations and maintenance fund included increased expenditures for utilities and repair and maintenance at PBL High School, Clara Peterson Elementary School and PBL Eastlawn School to reflect current repairs and usage this heating season.

The transportation expenses were increased to include the purchase of a new van that the board previously approved. The new van replaced an older one that was out of service.

The site and construction expenditures were adjusted for the renovation and building addition projects at Clara Peterson to better reflect actual spending on the project between now and the end of the fiscal year.

Meanwhile, McClure said the district’s operating funds are running ahead of budgeted expectations after seven months.

“I project that PBL finances will trend this direction for the remainder of the fiscal year,” McClure said after the meeting. “This is due to fiscal discipline by our board and staff.”

The state’s new funding formula has PBL in the second tier of three, meaning the district is less needy than districts in the first tier of schools. Though more money is expected to come from the state, McClure said the timing is uncertain. Lawmakers are still figuring out how to distribute the money to schools, he said.

“They say it’s being worked out, but if they would just pay their categorical on time I would appreciate that,” McClure said.

McClure said he was frustrated that the state prorated last year’s funding to the tune of $2 million as a way to deal with a budget not being passed by the Legislature, saying that they still owe $825,000 of that amount.

“It’s old news, but it’s hard to move past that since our taxpayers did their job,” McClure said.

McClure provided financial projections with the board, as well. A chart showed PBL is projected to end each fiscal year with less money than the previous year going forward. Though the chart shows the district running out of money in 2022, McClure cautioned that the district’s finances may not be that dire.

“These are not the best- or worst-case scenarios,” McClure said, “but assumptions that can change at any moment. Our district philosophy is to show fiscal discipline and constraint. We continue to hope for timely and increased funding from the state to adequately and equitably fund our district.”

McClure also mentioned that last year’s projection showed PBL running out of money in 2021 — thus, making this year’s projection better than the last.

Still, McClure said he was hopeful that the financial issues would work out in the end as long as the district keeps doing its job.

“We will continue to be fiscally conservative as in the past,” McClure said. “We have expenditures coming up which we have some control over, but some that we don’t have a lot of control over. We will be fine, and I continue to think that the state is going to come through sometime on their part.”

A public hearing regarding the amended budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 15.

Bids awarded
Board members awarded 13 bids related to the upcoming Clara Peterson renovation/addition project and PBL High School renovation project. The contracts include:

➜ $882,180 to Mid-Illinois Concrete of Urbana for cast-in-place concrete work.

➜ $798,500 to Coreslab Structures of Indianapolis, Ind. for pre-cast concrete work.

➜ $1,120,000 to Kirby and Turner Masonry of Urbana for masonry work.

➜ $1,583,290 to Halverson Construction of Springfield for structural and miscellaneous steel.

➜ $403,159 to Stevens Industries of Teutopolis for casework.

➜ $709,150 to Western Waterproofing of Peoria to put a new roof on the project areas.

➜ $852,900 to Bacon and Van Buskirk of Champaign for an aluminum storefront and glazing work.

➜ $258,000 to Paul Painting and Decorating of Tolono for painting work.

➜ $249,000 to Matco Fire Protection of Paxton for fire protection work.

➜ $630,360 to Glade Plumbing and Piping of Kankakee for plumbing work.

➜ A total of $4.84 million in two separate bids to Davis-Houk Mechanical of Urbana for plumbing and mechanical work.

➜ $1,639,199 to Iroquois Paving of Watseka for site work.

Chuck Reifsteck — an Urbana architect whose company, Reifsteck and Reed, is overseeing the project — said additional bids will be brought to the board for approval at a special board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22.

Also last week, the board approved applying for building permits for the addition/renovation project at Clara Peterson and the renovation of PBL High School. The board also approved an Illinois State Board of Education variance for the new gymnasium at Clara Peterson.

Bass fishing club moving along
PBL High School Athletic Director Brock Niebuhr told the board that he looked into Kevin Schnebly’s proposal for a bass fishing team at PBL High School and is moving forward with it.

Niebuhr said the idea is to start a student-led angler club and to move in the direction of where Schnebly can start receiving community support. Niebuhr said Schnebly is looking for people who would be interested in supplying equipment, transporting boats and other things that do not require any financial assistance from the school.

If the club can attract enough support, then Niebuhr said he would consider entering PBL into the IHSA bass fishing tournaments. Niebuhr said a decision is needed by the IHSA by Feb. 1, 2019, for tournaments that spring, but he said the PBL club would likely not be able to enter state competition until the 2019-20 school year.

Niebuhr said he would welcome the club, but only if it is a multi-year commitment.

“We don’t want something that is going to be one or two years because of a few kids interested, and then once they graduate it would go away,” Niebuhr said. “If we do something, we want it to be long-term and something that is sustainable for a while and grow and build into something. If it’s something that our kids and community have an interest in, then we can go forward with it, but if it’s something that we feel is going to fizzle out, then we won’t.”

Other business
Also at last Wednesday’s meeting:

➜ The board accepted the resignations of National Honor Society sponsor Amanda Dunlavey and PBL High School assistant football coach Brett Trefren.

➜ The board hired Rob Pacey as PBL Junior High School track coach and Ted Powers as a volunteer PBL High School baseball coach.

➜ The board granted leave of absences to Renae Burklund, Helen Ellis and Wendy Niebuhr.

➜ The board approved the 2018-19 school calendar. The first day of school for students is Aug. 16, and the last day of student attendance is May 20, 2019. Christmas break is scheduled for Dec. 24 through Jan. 6, and spring break is from April 18-22, 2019.

➜ The board amended the district’s disaster-preparedness agreement to reflect the Illinois Knights Templar Home’s name change to Accolade Healthcare. McClure said the agreement allows Accolade Healthcare’s two facilities in Paxton to house services in case either is destroyed in a disaster.

➜ The board approved Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative grants to teachers Hillary Sawyer, LeAnn McPike and Matthew Ducker-Duffy.

➜ The board approved new and revised school board policies and a volunteer coaching policy/application.

➜ The board discussed the renewal of an intergovernmental agreement between PBL and the Paxton Park District. The agreement will be up for approval in March.
March’s regular board meeting was changed from 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 15.


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