With more than half of the school year now complete, Triad along with all other school districts in Illinois is still waiting for their first state-funded categorical payment of the year to arrive. In the State of Illinois, each district receives four quarterly categorical payments each fiscal year, to help pay for transportation, special education and other expenses such as early childhood education.
For Triad, each of the four categorical payments is approximately $650,000 of revenue for the district. A past history suggests that Triad might only receive three of the four payments before June 30th, however, concern is starting to grow that the district may not even receive these payments. While state politicians advertise that they are fully funding K-12 education, this is not true. The State of Illinois has made “State Aid” payments in full, however, not making categorical payments has caused districts to use their reserves to keep services such as bus transportation and special education services operational. Triad, however, does not have reserves to cover what the State has collected from taxpayers and failed to distribute to Illinois schools. Therefore, the district is being forced to consider other options.
This lack of funding from the State of Illinois has district administration and the Triad Board of Education discussing options to cover for the shortfalls for the remainder of the budget year. The Triad FY17 budget submitted in September listed a deficit of approximately $150,000 assuming that all four categorical payments would be received. The hope was that as in past years, the district would come in better than the budget and finish this year in "the black" with a positive balance. If the district were to receive three categorical payments, the estimated deficit would be $800,000. Receiving two of the four categorical payments would increase that deficit to $1,450,000. If this happens, the district will be forced to “take out a loan” by issuing Tax Anticipation Warrants in order to continue operating transportation services.
Listed below is a chart of State revenue that should have been distributed to Triad that has not been released as of February 2017. The amount currently stands at over $1.5 million. Below is a chart that lays out the delinquent payments to Triad owed by the State of Illinois.
The graph below illustrates transportation expenditures and reimbursement for Madison County Schools. The entire length of the bar represents the expenditures per mile for each district in the 2015-16 school year. Triad’s expenditures in the Transportation Fund were $2.74 per mile--the second lowest in Madison County. Triad owns its own fleet of buses which helps district transportation to run more efficiently.
To continue the discussion on State Funding for districts such as Triad, understand that transportation of students is partially funded by the State of Illinois in the form of categorical payments. Looking at each bar graph, you will notice “red” and “blue” sections. Red indicates expenditures that were reimbursed by the State of Illinois. Blue indicates expenditures that were funded by other sources of revenue. With the lack of state categorical payments this school year, the red section (State Funds) will continue to shrink and the blue section (Local Funds) will continue to expand. The concern is that Illinois is not dispersing State Tax Dollars to public schools as the law requires. This information is not intended to suggest the need for an increase in local property taxes. The intent is to inform our constituents that State Funds are being withheld from public schools with the expectation of continuing the same level of transportation services.
Please contact Assistant Superintendent Jason Henderson at 667-8851 x1100 if you would like more information on the issues related to state funding and Triad finances.