Rockford Public Schools earns top financial ranking
Online Staff Report
School officials announced today, Thursday, July 14, that the Illinois State Board of Education has recognized Rockford Public Schools for its financial excellence.
The recognition is based on annual financial profiles conducted by the state. These profiles are designed to assess the financial health of school districts statewide and provide a system where the public can see how their school district ranks in comparison to others in Illinois.
The profile considers several factors, including the balance-to-revenue ratio, expenditure-to-revenue ratio, the amount of available cash, percentage of short-term borrowing and the percentage of long-term debt margin that remains.
Based on that information, Rockford Public Schools earned “Financial Recognition,” the highest category possible for its 2011 School District Financial Profile, which uses data from the 2009-2010 school year.
In a congratulatory letter sent to the district, Christopher Koch, the state superintendent of education, wrote, “Given the economic difficulties school districts are facing, the State Board realizes this is a significant accomplishment.”
Chief Financial Officer Cedric Lewis said he is pleased with the recognition the district’s financial department received.
“I was happy to learn our books are in line with expectations from the state board and we’ve received their top ranking,” Lewis said. “As we move forward, we will continue our conservative approach and make the best possible financial decisions for the district.”
The announcement comes after almost two years of controversy centered on the reported $50 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2012, which began July 1.
The deficit, brought to the Board of Education by Lewis former Superintendent Dr. LaVonne Sheffield, led to the closings of several schools, and massive teacher cuts.
The budget deficit was reported to the board in 2010.
Last month, the board approved a plan to dip into reserve funds for $9 million to balance its 2012 budget of $371 million.
As of this report, the district was still negotiating teacher contracts with the Rockford Education Association (REA).
While details of the union’s bargaining points are not known, spokesmen on both side say an agreement is expected before students return to school Aug. 24.
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