Mahomet-Seymour board looks at financial outlook

Despite decreased state and federal funding over the last four years with increased enrollment in the Mahomet-Seymour School District, Superintendent Rick Johnston and Chief School Business Official Trent Nuxoll reported significant financial gains during Monday night’s school board meeting.

“The news isn’t good, but the news is that we are moving toward a sustainable, doable budget,” Johnston said.

The Mahomet-Seymour School District is unique to other districts within Champaign County and across the state in that many other school districts do not rely as heavily on residential tax dollars and state funding because they have additional funds coming from a commercial and industrial tax base.

Nuxoll showed the board how Mahomet-Seymour relies on 48 percent of funds from state and federal taxes while on average other districts rely on 34 percent from state and federal dollars.

Over the last four years the school district has lost over $4 million as state funding has been prorated at 89 percent. Johnston said he is encouraged by Governor Rauner’s commitment to prorate schools at 92 percent during the next school year.

Despite decreased state funding, the Mahomet-Seymour School District has grown by 10 percent over the last four years.

Johnston said by being efficient and effective with how the district spends money, the district is in a different situation than other districts in the state which are looking to take out $5 million working cash bonds.

Before 2012 the district increased spending the previous four years by 11 percent or $2.3 million. In school years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 the district has held the line in expenses, increasing by only 1 percent.

Because the district took out a $2 million working cash bond two years ago, they have also been able to increase days with cash on hand from a low of 79 days in 2013 to 100 days in 2014 and 88 days in 2015.

Johnston said the district is committed to keeping property taxes low. The overall property tax rate went up from $8.01 to $8.03 per $100 this year. The district is also expected to see increased enrollment over the next few years as hundreds of lots become available throughout the Mahomet-Seymour School District.

The board committed to cap classroom sizes, and with increased enrollment, the district will also have to hire additional teachers.

When the 2014-2015 school year began, the district anticipated a $810,000 budget deficit. The actual deficit came in at $752,872. Johnston said that number would be nearly $200,000 less, but the district paid an  unexpected $455,000 payment to the state for special education transportation and an additional $25,562 for an interim principal at Middletown Prairie Elementary School this year.

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