Chester CUSD 139 placed on 'Financial Watch' list by state board of education
ISBE rates school districts on their fund balance and expenditure-to-revenue ratios, days of cash on hand, and percentage of remaining short- and long-term borrowing ability.
Of Illinois' 857 school districts, 568, or 66 percent, earned the state's "Financial Recognition" designation, suggesting they are fiscally sound.
The other 34 percent statewide, or 289 districts, received lower marks from ISBE, suggesting they need work:
• 196 (23 percent) are under "Financial Review"
• 61 (7 percent) were given an "Early Warning"
• 32 (4 percent) are under "Financial Watch," including Chicago Public Schools and seven others in the Metro-East.
In Randolph County, 4 of the county's 7 school districts (57.14 percent) earned the "Financial Recognition" designation.
No districts in Randolph were placed under "Early Warning."
Two districts -- Chester N HSD 122 and Sparta CUSD 140 -- were placed under "Financial Review."
ISBE reports that districts are increasingly "borrowing to obtain needed cash flow" and "continue to issue long-term debt to sustain day-to-day operations."
Schools are "continuing to break even or are spending more than they are realizing in revenue," the report says.
Illinois public school districts issued $307.2 million in long-term debt in fiscal year 2015 versus $356.5 million in fiscal year 2014. In 2015, 499 -- or 58 percent -- spent more money than they took in, borrowing or using taxpayer-provided reserves to cover the deficit.
ISBE's "School District Financial Profile" was first issued in 2003.
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100 N. 1st Street
Springfield, IL 62777