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Fiscal indicators show D. 202 is efficient with local revenues -- District compares favorably to wealthier neighbors

District 202 operates very efficiently using its local revenues and holds up well compared to wealthier neighboring districts.

Anthony Arbogast, District 202 assistant superintendent for business and operations recently publicly presented fiscal and enrollment data illustrating District 202’s operating efficiency.

“We are not a business, per se, but like all businesses, we want to use our resources as effectively and efficiently as possible to make sure our community gets the greatest value for its tax dollars,” Arbogast said.

“Considering the fact that we don’t have the property wealth of some of our neighboring districts, we do very well for our students and taxpayers,” Arbogast said.

District 202 spends significantly less per student on operating expenses ($11,755) than both the state average ($13,908.35) and Naperville District 203 ($15,716.85) to which District 202 is often compared.

District 203 has about 17,000 students in 23 schools, while District 202 has about 25,000 students in 30 schools. District 202 would need to increase per student expenditures by about $100 million dollars to be at the per student expenditures of District 203.

Meanwhile, over 54 percent of District 202 students meet state learning expectations compared to the state average (52 percent) in 2019. By comparison, 61 percent of District 203 students met or exceeded expectations.

Likewise, District 202 had the lowest per-student expenditures, but students performed above the average of other unit districts in Cook, Will, Kendall, DuPage, Kane, Kendall Counties.

It is important to understand, Arbogast said, that District 203’s commercial property tax base (with an equalized assessed value of about $847.7 million) is about 151 percent larger than District 202’s (EAV of about $337.7 million).

That puts more of the tax burden on non-commercial sources like residential property and farms, which more directly affect individual property owners and taxpayers.

It also forces District 202 to rely more on state funding which often comes with restrictions. Local funding comprises 62 percent of District 202’s revenue, compared to 89 percent for District 203.

Even worse, school districts like District 202 that rely on state funding feel the pinch much more when the state cannot meet its funding obligations.

This fiscal year alone, District 202 has lost about $4.3 million in state revenues. District 203 has lost none.

This fiscal disparity also explains why it is neither practical nor prudent for District 202 to offer a tax refund like District 203 did earlier this spring. “We simply do not have the money they do,” Arbogast said.

Yet, District 202 continues to earn praise from official financial industry and state sources.

Among other key statistics, Arbogast said that District 202 recently earned an “Aa2” bond rating – the third highest possible – from Moody’s Investors Services.

Likewise, Arbogast expects the district to earn the state’s highest fiscal rating for the sixth straight year, based on preliminary fiscal information, and the district’s tax rate has shrunk by about 26 percent since 2013.

“I have said before and it’s worth repeating: there is always room to improve, but District 202 is delivering a tremendous value, dollar for dollar, to our families and taxpayers.”

 

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