District 87 relies on COVID relief grants to reduce deficit


District 87’s finance chief told the school board on Wednesday that while the district projects a structural deficit of nearly $ 3 million in its current budget, he hopes reimbursement for COVID relief will arrive in time to reduce that amount to less than $ 1 million.

At the start of the school year, it was unclear what kind of negative impact the pandemic crisis would have on the finances of the district. In recent years, District 87 has recorded surpluses, Colin Manahan said.

The district has requested about $ 2 million in federal reimbursements for COVID relief – $ 1.3 million to cover food service personnel and about $ 700,000 to cover personal protective equipment. If these grants arrive before July, it will mean that the district budget will see the deficit lower by $ 1 million.

While that number remains high, it is far better than district leaders expected, Manahan said.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board approved a minor funding adjustment to this year’s budget. Manahan said the budget of about $ 75 million will not change overall. This decision adds $ 100,000 to a pension fund, taking that amount from a fire prevention fund.

The board adopted the fiscal year 21 budget on September 23. The board should adopt the amended version, following a hearing on June 9.

Manahan said adjustments were needed every year, given the nine-month gap between the adoption of the budget and the final tally. But he said this year has been complicated by the pandemic.

“In the tough times we’re going through, I think it’s pretty good that we don’t have to make any major changes,” he told the board.

The finance chief also told the board he expects tuition fees to remain stable for next year. One unknown, however, is the cost of meals. The district will not be able to determine this until the federal government releases its calculations, he said. Manahan said he would be surprised if they increased, however, given the continuing economic difficulties surrounding the pandemic.

Finalized graduation plan

Plans are in place for Bloomington High School to hold an outdoor graduation ceremony, District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly told the council.

If bad weather interferes, the school will hold a drive-through ceremony like it did last year, he added. Either way, the celebration will take place at 3 p.m. on May 30. The Grossinger Motors Arena is not available as it is used for the McLean County Department of Health COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

Fitzgerald, others seated

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board seated new member Samedy Fitzgerald and those re-elected to a second term in the April 6 election: Elizabeth Fox Anvick, Brigette Gibson and Chuck Irwin. The four terms run until 2025. Fitzgerald replaces Kiasha Henry, who was appointed in 2019 but did not stand for election this spring.

The seven-member board of directors also includes James Almeda, Tammy Houtzel and Mark Wylie.

Members elected Wylie Chairman of the Board and Fox Anvick Vice Chairman. They appointed Wilma Gleason secretary of the board and Manahan, treasurer of the board. These positions generally last one year. However, with Manahan’s retirement in June, the board also voted on Wednesday that his successor would be board treasurer from July.

New CFO and Facilities Manager Michael Cornale begins his three-year contract on July 1, with an annual salary of $ 120,000. He comes to Bloomington via the Gardner School District in Grundy County. Reilly said Cornale had studied facilities management, so it would be a great fit for the dual responsibility of managing the finances and buildings in the neighborhood. He also heads finance and facilities in the Gardner district.

Manahan worked for almost 25 years in District 87. His departure will be followed a year later by Reilly’s retirement in 2022.

COVID vaccination clinic

After the meeting, Reilly said about 75 students, parents, teachers and staff signed up for a COVID vaccination clinic at Bloomington High School on Thursday. Students aged 16 and over are eligible for the vaccine. But those under 18 need parental permission, he said.

Wednesday’s board meeting was held at the District Education Services Center, 300 E. Monroe Street, Bloomington. The next council meeting will be on May 12th.

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