The Duneland Schools Corporation learned it could have gotten a few more
bucks out of its referendum according to the 2013 budget certified by the
state this month.
Assistant Superintendent of Operations Dave Pruis presented the Duneland
School Board Thursday with a two-column sheet, one showing the advertised
budget that was approved by the board in September and another showing the
state’s budget order which was released on Feb. 6.
Pruis pointed out the advertised budget was based on a total assessed value
of $2,000,000,000 while the state’s budget took into account an AV of
$2,405,918,136. This meant the tax rates in the state’s budget were less
than what was advertised.
The school’s total rate advertised was 1.5200 while the state’s total was
1.0984, according to Pruis’ data.
The certified budget total came to $62,616,299, compared to the advertised
$63,525,458, with a total levy of $26,772,596.
The amount for the General Fund was the same between the two budgets,
$34,380,000 because the state sets the budget itself with a funding formula
based on average student attendance.
Also the same was the school’s debt service at $7,812,512, the Pension Debt
budget with $1,596,391, the Transportation budget at $3,866,342, and the Bus
Replacement Fund with $650,089.
The budgets differed at the Capital Projects budget amount. Certified was
$9,468,965 while it had been advertised at $10,378,124.
Pruis said the school board had approved a resolution to neutralize the
pension debt with the Capital Funds project by 25 percent in 2013, 50
percent in 2014, and 75 percent in 2015, until it is completely resolved in
Next, Pruis showed the board the state had used the $4,782,000 it advertised
for the referendum budget using the maximum 22-cent option. The amount was
certified but because the certified AV was more than what the schools based
their advertised budget on, the rate came to .2056 instead with a levy of
Baer said that he wished the school corporation could have been informed
that they could have advertised the higher amount to get the full benefit of
the 22-cents per $100 of AV. He said the schools could have received a levy
of about $5.6 million, more than $300,000 more in the school’s general fund,
which they now will not be able to collect.
“This will do well,” Baer said about the resulting $5.3 million levy, but he
said that he “did not like” the state or the county not advising that the
advertised amount could have been set higher.
“You are capped at what you advertise,” Pruis said.
Pruis said this year’s AV was $11 million less than what it was in 2012
which is down about 16 percent from 2008’s total, $265,274,488.
Audit check okay
Meanwhile, Duneland Corporation Business Manager and Treasurer Bonnie Gaston
said there were only minor problems reported in the recent audit the state
board of accounts conducted for the period of July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2012.
“It really was not bad at all,” Gaston said.
The audit report did complain about a few instances of improper
documentation. One example was the corporation’s documents showed 93
students graduated with an academic honors diploma in 2010 but had reported
94 students to the Department of Education.
Gaston said she followed the information in the report and got the situation
resolved with the Department of Education.
Other items questioned in the audit:
-- In several instances, money from the school’s general fund was being used
to purchase extra-curricular items, like one specific time when Bailly
Elementary paid for staff dinner expenses from the general fund.
-- Two certificates of deposit purchased from the athletic fund were
automatically renewed by the depository without the knowledge or agreement
of the extra-curricular treasurer.
-- Westchester Intermediate School had improperly receipted $1,686.70 from a
2011 student fundraiser into the faculty general account.
-- Twenty percent of the disbursements reviewed lacked proper documentation.
The claim forms had no attachments beyond a purchase order.
Gaston attributed the errors partly to changes in personnel. She said she
has discussed the items with the state for corrections.
Board President Mike Trout commented, “Well, they have to find something.”
He said he remembers previous audit reports also giving minor complaints but
none of the audits have shown any wrongdoing on the part of the school.