Schools chief takes pay cut as Dist. 303 waits for state cash

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Less money was both a positive and a negative as the St. Charles Unit District 303 school board met Monday night.

The good news was Superintendent Don Schlomann voluntarily agreed to take a pay cut. The district is operating with a budget that provides no raises for administrators this year. Schlomann, operating on a different contract, was exempt from that deal but agreed to take a reduction in the deferred compensation and number of paid holidays he was set to receive this year. The total savings for the district comes to about $7,500 this year. The pay cut will also benefit taxpayers long term as it will result in a cut to Schlomann's pension.

School board members and President Scott Nowling thanked Schlomann for sharing the hit all administrators will take this year.

"This is something that probably doesn't feel good, but I imagine it feels right," Nowling said.

What didn't feel right to the school board was an increase in the amount of money the state owes the district. Late and unmade state payments owed to the district were a much-publicized financial burden on the district's website all summer. The number hovered at slightly less than $3 million for most of the summer break but has now hit nearly $3.2 million.

Chief Financial Officer Brad Cauffman said the state debt increased thanks to some late vouchers from the state, but he didn't know specifically what the vouchers were tied to. Cauffman said the $3.2 million should represent the final total bill the state owes the district stemming back to the last school year.

Cauffman said the only money coming in from the state on a consistent basis is general state aid. The district receives $5 million a year in general state aid, but that total represents less than 30 percent of the $17 million of money the district is supposed to receive from the state. That may mean an even leaner year than expected for the district.

Cauffman said the state used money from the one-time federal stimulus to make general state aid payments last year when the state budget crisis escalated. That stimulus money won't be available to the state or District 303 this year.

The district is expecting some money from the so-called "Teachers and Jobs" bill approved by the Congress last month. However, Cauffman said that money has not showed up yet.