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D103 school board misses state budget deadline

After failing to hold hearing in July, notice never posted for September

October 1st, 2019 1:33 PM

School boards across Illinois were busy in September adopting their budgets for the 2019-20 fiscal year in advance of the Sept. 30 deadline set by state law. 

But not in Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103. No budget was adopted, or even voted upon, at the meeting of the District 103 school board on Sept. 24, because of what Superintendent Kristopher Rivera called a snafu. 

Rivera said that the district, which has not had a business manager since July 1, failed to publish the required public notice for a public hearing on the budget to take place at the Sept. 24 meeting and thus could not hold the public hearing required by law. 

The public notice must be filed 30 days before the budget hearing, and Rivera said that the oversight was not discovered until it was too late to file the public notice in time to have the public hearing in September.

The Illinois State Board of Education requires school districts to approve a budget by end of the first quarter of the fiscal year, which began on July 1. District 103 will likely get a slap on the wrist from the ISBE for not passing its budget on time.

"They told us we would likely get an audit citation," Rivera said.

Despite not having a formally approved budget, District 103 can continue spending money and paying its bills. 

Rivera said former business manager Sherry Reynolds Whitaker, who left the district on July 1 to take a job with the East Saint Louis school district, had submitted a public notice to have a budget hearing on July 30 and said that the proposed budget was on display for the required 30 days this summer. But the school board never held the budget hearing in July. 

Rivera said the screw-up was a consequence of not having a business manager. In June, Rivera tentatively offered the business manager job to Donald McKinney, a former superintendent in the south suburbs. However, Rivera has been unable to get board President Jorge Torres to put a vote to hire McKinney on a school board meeting agenda. 

McKinney now seems out of the running for the position and Rivera said the district is considering hiring a retired school business manager to work for the rest of the year on an interim basis.

The district's budget will be voted on at a special meeting on Oct. 25.

The proposed budget is not currently on public display.

"The current one is not on display, but I don't know that it has to be on display," Rivera said pointing out that a tentative budget was on display this summer.