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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

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ETHS unveils 2023-2024 budget with a 5.2 percent increase

Chief Financial Officer Kendra Williams discusses budget process and priorities

At the Sept. 11 school board meeting, ETHS released its budget for the 2023-2024 school year. According to the board’s final budget presentation, the overall budget for fiscal year 2024 (FY 2024) has increased by 5.2 percent from last year.

“There’s just so much always to be done, and a finite amount of money to do it,” said ETHS’ Chief Financial Officer, Kendra Williams, when describing the decision-making procedure. Creating this year’s budget followed “a pretty stable process,” Williams said. From year to year, “the weight that we put on certain items may change.”

The school budget is created with the aim of being balanced and supporting the district’s goals. 

“We’ve had 17 consecutive years of balanced budgets,” said Williams.

In the introductory letter to the budget, Superintendent Marcus Campbell said, “this budget reflects the high value we place on equitably educating all students, on having high expectations and successful academic achievement for all students, and on achieving the goals of the district.”

The total budget for this year is $105 million. Out of that, $95 million fit under the category of operating funds. 

“When we talk about operating expenses, that’s just specific funds [including] our education fund, operations and maintenance and our transportation fund,” said Williams. Other funds include money toward Capital Improvement and Social Security, but operating funds make up the majority of the school’s budget.

When planning for the year ahead, salaries are the largest piece of the budget and are calculated based on the number of teachers who are going to be in each subject. The presentation at the school board meeting stated that salaries have increased by 5.47 percent from FY 2023, partially due to employment contracts and an increase in medical coverage. 

“When you think about everything that we have going on here, the most important thing would be what? Your teachers, right? The staff that are here to care for the students,” said Williams. “Schools are a people business.”

The board meeting presentation also included information about how ETHS divides its money between academic subjects. 

“From there, you’re going to be looking at what services you need in what department,” Williams said, mentioning costs like field trips and supplies. She believes that it’s important in the budgeting process to think about how “the supplies for, say, a math department…[are different from] a fine arts department that is constantly going through paint and different materials.”

Overall, the administrative feeling was that the process of creating this year’s budget went smoothly, although there is built-in room for adjustments throughout the year. 

“If there is something that’s needed above and beyond what may have been allocated in previous years, then that becomes the discussion,” said Williams.

At the meeting, Campbell reemphasized the entire reason behind the budget, which is optimized student learning.

“Using our student-focused, values-based budgeting, we will continue to focus our budget decisions to meet the changing needs of our students, strengthen the financial solvency of the district, and continue providing an excellent education for our students,” said Campbell.

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    LAURIE LAWLORSep 29, 2023 at 11:37 am

    Excellent reporting. Thanks for helpful charts.

    Reply