SPRINGFIELD — Seven Madison County school districts are identified as being in “watch” or “early warning” status in an annual statewide review of financial data by the Illinois State Board of Education.
The Alton, Bethalto and Edwardsville school districts are listed as “watch” status, meaning the state board closely monitors their finances and offers them technical assistance. The state also reviews the districts to determine whether they meet the legal criteria for a financial oversight panel.
The East Alton Elementary School District and the Granite City, Madison and Triad school districts are listed as “early warning” status, similar to “watch” districts only to a lesser degree.
The number of districts earning the state board’s top financial rating dropped again this year while districts projected to deficit spend this school year increased to 550, or 64.2 percent, of all districts.
According to a press release from the state education board, many districts have already reduced staff, delayed building repairs and upgrades, and eliminated academic and extracurricular programs with little financial relief.
“Our Financial Profile data shows that while our schools continue to cut costs and stretch shrinking financial resources, many still must borrow or dip into their reserves in order to stay in the black,” State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch said. “There also appears to be a direct correlation between the decrease in state funding and the declining number of districts in financial recognition. Our board will continue to advocate for more state education funding through the spring so schools can start a new fiscal year on July 1 with more resources and support for the needs of all students.”
The board has asked for an additional $729.9 million in education funding from the current year to fully fund general state aid, which has been prorated for the last four years. When adjusted for inflation, the proposed fiscal year 2016 budget amount is still 5.2 percent less than the fiscal year 2009 general fund appropriation level.
The 2015 Financial Profile is based on fiscal year 2014 data received from school districts and provides a snapshot in time that helps ISBE gauge school districts’ financial health. A district is categorized for the profile based on its annual financial report from fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30. The rating is created by using five indicators of performance:
- Fund balance to revenue ratio
- Expenditure to revenue ratio
- Days’ cash on hand
- Percent of short-term borrowing ability remaining
- Percent of long-term borrowing ability remaining
The profile alone does not provide a complete picture of a district’s financial condition, but it provides a tool for ISBE staff to use with other data and information to assess an individual district’s financial status.
The 2015 Financial Profile is available at www.isbe.net/sfms/P/profile.htm.