By Superintendent Andrew DuRoss
In sports, it is called a game plan. The construction industry uses a blueprint. Business refers to it as a strategic plan. In School District 54, our Mission, Vision, Commitments and Goals outline the action plan we follow.
Last year, a 40-member committee comprised of parents, support staff, teachers and administrators met to update this document. Their charge was to evaluate the performance of the school district and to set new goals to guide our work. One area of focus was the district’s methods for maintaining fiscal responsibility.
It is District 54 Board policy that the administration must present a balanced budget for our operating funds (education, operations and maintenance, transportation and working cash) to the Board of Education each year. With this expectation, we incorporate a rigorous annual budget process that involves key stakeholders, including community members. We believe that this transparent and collaborative approach is the most effective manner in which to receive critical feedback and, ultimately, maintain the district’s overall financial health. In fact, District 54 has had a balanced operating budget for the last 17 years.
Our Business Operations Department manages a flexible, long-range facility plan that includes an annual evaluation of our capital needs. Because of our 10-year capital budget plan, we are able to effectively plan for the replacement of capital items based on their expected useful life. Our plan provides funding for preventative maintenance.
District 54 paid off its debt in 2011 and has not issued any new debt since then. Instead, we use our reserve funds to pay for capital outlay expenses, including the early childhood center opening in August.
We also actively look for additional sources of revenue. Our schools and our staff have been able to implement programs that are outside the general budget by applying for grants through agencies such as the Schaumburg Township Elementary School Foundation, local Rotary clubs, Schaumburg CAN (Children, Activity, Nutrition), Siemens, Motorola and other local businesses.
However, some factors related to school finance are out of our control. For example, we can’t control the amount of funding we receive from the state and federal government, although we do at times make our district’s needs known. Our Legislative Networking Committee (comprised of board members, teachers, support staff, parents and administrators) actively monitors legislation that affects school districts and ensures that our legislators know how legislation will affect our district and our students. Whether the legislation relates to fiscal responsibility, curriculum or other aspects of a student’s learning environment, it is our job to inform our legislators, letting them know how it will impact student achievement.
We appreciate that we work in a community that supports education. At the same time, we understand that our taxpayers also require us to be fiscally responsible. We take both charges seriously. We plan to continue balancing our operating budget while maximizing the use of financial resources to support high levels of student learning.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me at (847) 357-5036. Also, don’t forget to visits our Mission and Goals website at http://sd54.org/board/mission to view a video in which I further explain this vision statement.