District 97 will have a budget surplus this year of nearly a million dollars in its education, transportation and working cash funds, thanks in part to financial help from the Village of Oak Park.

According to the district’s FY ’08 budget, the education fund shows a surplus totaling $569,353. The district’s transportation and working cash funds also show surpluses of more than $109,000 and $275,000 respectively.

All told, the district projects a surplus of more than $950,000.

Don Robinson, Dist. 97 assistant superintendent for finance and operations, though, referred to the positive cash flow this year as “unusual” because it stems largely from outside financial support from the village.

The village and other taxing bodies pitched in a one-time cash infusion of $2.37 million this year.

The district also secured $2.4 million from a leaseback agreement on the sale of its central office headquarters to the village, which will lease it back for $1 a year until 2011, when the district will buy the property back.

The district will also receive the last of $1.3 million in annual payments from the village, part of a three-year agreement that ends Dec. 31.

Robinson presented the good financial news to the district at last week’s school board meeting, but warned that the surplus was only for this year and that the district still needs a long-term financial solution.

Dist. 97 for the last two fiscal years ran deficits of $4.9 million in FY 2005-06 and $3.1 million last year. Long-term projections forecast a structural deficit with expenditures outpacing revenues.

“I think we’re in a short period where we’re looking better because of the extraordinary effort in the community,” Robinson said.

The Dist. 97 Board of Education will adopt the ’07-’08 budget on Sept. 25.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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