Superintendent's Budget Message

Reported by on 12/15/11

Dear District 204 Community,

When I became superintendent three years ago, I shared with you that I would focus on student achievement, finances, and communication. I remain focused on those areas today. This fall, I was happy to share with you that student achievement is solid, with our students setting a record score on the ACT. We've also increased communication to you over the past three years, including creating transparency with on-demand videos available through

We have faced our greatest challenges in the area of finance. The state's funding formula is designed so the more a district receives in property taxes, the less it receives in state funding. We receive less revenue from property taxes per pupil than some surrounding districts. Therefore, we rely on the state for 13.25 percent of our budget. Over the past several years, the budget turmoil in Springfield has negatively impacted our district. During that time, we've had to cut $30.4 million from our operating budget in order to maintain a balanced budget. We have tried to do so with minimal impact to our students.

Unfortunately, when we look at next year's budget, we are facing familiar challenges. We are forecasted to have a $3.5 million deficit. When we add deferred projects that have been placed on hold for budget reasons over the past several years, including curriculum and technology needs, we are looking at an approximate $8.1 million deficit.

In order to achieve a balanced budget next year we need to cut our budget once again. Last month we asked the community for suggestions on ways to save money. We have received more than 500 responses from our parents and staff. The Citizens Financial Advisory Committee is reviewing those suggestions.

With each round of budget cuts over the past several years, we have tried to stay as far away from the classroom as possible. We are at the point where that is no longer possible. In January, administrators will present a list of possible reductions to the Board of Education. Our board will then have the very difficult decision of deciding how to balance the budget, keeping in mind what is best for our students. 

I want to remind you that you can watch budget videos from the board of education meetings at I will continue to bring you updates as we move forward in the budget process.

Thank you for your continued support.

Kathy Birkett



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