NEW LENOX – Lincoln-Way District 210 officials plan to protect against current or future financial risks by increasing and maintaining fund balances, or the difference between a fund’s assets and liabilities.
The board on Thursday approved a new policy that establishes a goal for a minimum fund balance of 33 percent of annual combined general and special revenue fund operating expenses.
The fund balance threshold is needed to meet the district’s cash-flow needs.
District officials are trying to restore stability to the district after it was given the worst financial rating by the state twice. The policy on fund balances is one of several goals district officials outlined in a five-year strategic long-range plan that was also approved by the board Thursday.
“There’s some accountability in this policy. … For the board and for the community,” board member Christopher Kosel said.
According to the policy, the district must “realize a surplus on an annual basis for several years,” to achieve the minimum fund balance of 33 percent of combined operating expenses. District officials have said they plan to have a budget surplus of about $2 million for this fiscal year.
An action plan developed by the board will be required during the annual budget process until the goal of 33 percent is met and maintained. Administrators will provide an update on the progress of the fund balance goal through monthly treasurer’s and cash flow reports.
The threshold for fund balances was previously proposed at 25 percent but Kosel said the consensus among the district’s Finance and Building Committee was that it should be 33 percent.
“That’s setting that goal a little higher. [It’s] the right way to do this because we are truly setting a goal and if we do not meet those criteria, then an action plan must be presented by the board,” Kosel said.
Board President Dee Molinare said she looked at other districts’ policies on maintaining fund balances and they did “not come close” to the details of District 210’s policy.
“[They were] very generic,” she said.
The board approved the five-year strategic long-range plan for buildings and grounds, finance and technology. The plans for each area of focus include action steps, responsibility, plan schedules and resources. The goals for finance include restoring fund balances and demonstrating fiscal responsibility while maintaining current student programs.
For technology, district officials intend to create a technology plan that prepares students for college, life and career readiness, along with meeting infrastructure needs such as wireless coverage and bandwidth. Under buildings and grounds, district officials plan to develop a plan for capital projects, operations and maintenance needs. They also plan to enhance the security at each of the buildings.