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Education

Woodridge financially sound at fiscal-year end

7/24/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

The Woodridge Local School District’s fiscal year ends June 30, and according to Treasurer Deanna Levenger, year-to-date revenues have exceeded expenditures by $517,000.

Most of the district’s income — 69 percent — came from local property taxes, she said at the July 15 Board of Education meeting. The state contributed less than 28 percent.

The district’s main expense, Levenger explained, is paying its staff. Salaries and benefits accounted for 77 percent of its costs last year, she said.

Purchased services — such as buying a new truck/snow plow, maintenance overtime for snow plowing, paying architects for facility planning and money lost to community/charter schools — made up another 15 percent.

The amount lost to community/charter schools this past year topped $505,000, Levenger said. She said she hears people say that when students leave their home district and go to a community school instead, there is no loss of local money to the home district. But dividing the $505,000 by the 65 students who left results in $7,718 lost per student, she said.

“It is not true” that the local public school district does not lose money to community schools, she said.

She also said the state pays Woodridge only $558 per student for its 1,985 students.

Another area where Woodridge has been losing money is its food service. Last year the district hired dietitian/consultant Maureen Pisanick, of Pisanick Partners LLC, to review the service to see where Woodridge could save money and increase student participation in the program.

Pisanick gave an exhaustive report July 15 on the plate-cost analysis, meals per labor hour, food cost analysis, food service salaries and benefits, and the district’s food profit and loss.

She said that 54 percent of Woodridge’s students participate in the food service program — through either paid lunch, reduced-price lunch or free lunch for those who qualify. The other 46 percent bring their lunch or buy food items a la carte, she said.

School districts need to balance food costs, labor and prices, she said. The per-meal district aggregate lunch cost for food, labor, supplies and staff fringe benefits is $2.63. The food service program lost $58,000 during the calamity snow days last winter, when no one bought lunch yet staff members were paid, Pisanick said.

Superintendent Walter Davis said he wants to increase the number of both paid users and free/reduced-price lunch participants. He said Pisanick will work with the food service staff in the coming year, and the district will use healthy menus Pisanick has developed for other school districts.

She also has programs to increase awareness of the free and reduced-price lunches, to market the new menus on the district’s website to both parents and students, to survey students on what they want and to promote wellness initiatives, she said.

In other business, after the recent lengthy facilities planning process and discussion of where the district needs to go with its buildings, Davis asked the board for approval to put a bond issue on the May 2015 ballot.

It will take time and some money to gather the necessary information for the issue from the architects working on the projects and from the district’s bond counsel, Davis said. Board members agreed Davis and Levenger should start the process now for the May ballot.

The board is conducting interviews for an interim board member to fill the seat of George DeBord, who resigned recently. They are planning a special public meeting for July 30 at 6 p.m. at the Administration Building, to appoint a new member.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Administration Building, 4411 Quick Road.

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