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D-200 passes 2013-14 budget with anticipated tax levy increase

WHEATON – Wheaton and Warrenville schools will see another year of balanced budgets.

The Community Unit School District 200 Board of Education passed its 2013-14 budget with six "yes" votes and one "no" vote at its Sept. 25 meeting. The approximately $153 million vote signifies the district's fourth balanced budget in a row, said Superintendent Brian Harris.

The budget approval presupposes an increase in the district tax levy, which has not yet been determined.

"When you're voting for this budget, you're essentially voting to make that kind of a levy," Board President Barbara Intihar said before the vote.

Board member Jim Gambaiani cast the lone dissenting vote and said that any rise in the tax levy would be too much.

"I think we have to be a little more mindful of watching our expenses as opposed to trying to place that burden on the district or our shareholders, the people that really pay the way for us," he said.

Secretary Brad Paulsen posed the question: "What's next? What do we not have in this budget that we want to keep an eye on?"

Paulsen mentioned furthering the presence of technology in the classroom, discussing recent decisions to hire an additional tech staffer and to set aside district funds to purchase equipment.

One parent in attendance thought it was time to re-introduce programs cut several years ago to save money.

"Back in 2010, we, the parents and students, rallied around you, the school district, when you had to do your job and cut many of our programs," said Pam Nielsen of Warrenville. "The school board told us at that meeting that they would come back as soon as they thought possible to bring some of our programs back. Well, we believe that time is now."

Nielsen spoke specifically about the reinstatement of B-team sports at the middle school level. She said that many students were losing valuable team experiences and money "can be found" in the budget.

Harris confirmed that schools in other districts were "frustrated" that D-200 didn't have a B-team for them to play against, but said there were other areas, such as professional development, that many Board and community members wanted to incorporate back into the budget. Board member Jim Vroman also mentioned the need for numerous facility updates.

Intihar said the decision not to reinstate programs was due to the lack of a reliable revenue to fund them. The source of the district's increase in technology spending this year, she said, was a growing amount of revenue tied to unanticipated business growth in the area that the district may not see next year.

"The money that we received is not recurring money," she said. "In general, this money is not planned on, it's not necessarily recurring money, so you'd hate to reinstate programs one year and not have the money for them the next."

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