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D-113A may be removed early from state financial difficulty list

LEMONT – Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A may be removed from the Illinois State Board of Education’s “financial difficulty” list a year earlier than expected.

During the July 17 Board of Education’s meeting, President Cindy Kelly said she was pleasantly surprised to hear the news during a phone conversation between district officials and Deb Vespa, division administrator of school business services for the state board.

According to Kelly, Vespa said if the district’s audit for fiscal year 2013 is favorable, she and her supervisor may recommend decertification from the list.

“This is good news for us because last time we had spoken, she had indicated that they wouldn’t consider it until fiscal year 2014,” she said.

Kelly stressed during the meeting she does not have written confirmation the state board will decertify D-113A.

Fiscal year 2013 ended in June. The next step is for the district to submit its Annual Financial Report to the state board by Oct. 15. After evaluating the report, the state board will determine whether to remove the district from the financial difficulty list.

According to Kelly, Vespa also said that starting now, district administrators will have more freedom to make their own personnel decisions, as long as they remain within the state board’s financial guidelines.

Because it is on the financial difficulty list, the district must submit all personnel changes to the state board for approval.

The district was placed on the financial difficulty list in 2009, requiring it to submit details about its financial plans to the state board.

D-113A board member Al Malley, who is head of the district’s finance committee, said the board had to make some difficult cuts to save enough money to strengthen its financial status.

“The story’s pretty well known. We cut to the bone,” he said.

Being removed from the list would be an accomplishment for the district, Kelly said.

“We would have control of our district back and there is no longer a threat of a financial oversight panel looming over us,” she said.

Superintendent Susan Birkenmaier said the district is confident its five-year strategic plan will allow administration to maintain financial stability.

Malley said the district needs to be pragmatic with its finances to avoid being placed on the financial difficulty list again in the future.

“We have to be careful how we spend our money and make sure the decisions we make today don’t hurt us down the road,” he said.

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