Harmony Emge School District 175 placed on financial "Early Warning" 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' 852 school districts, 632, or 74 percent, earned the state's "Financial Recognition" designation, suggesting they are fiscally sound.
The other 26 percent statewide, of 220 districts, received lower marks from ISBE, suggesting they need work:
154 (18 percent) are under "Financial Review"
47 (6 percent) were given an "Early Warning"
19 (2 percent) are under "Financial Watch", including Chicago Public Schools and seven others in the Metro-East.
In St. Clair County, 5 of the county's 18 school districts (27 percent) earned the "Financial Recognition" designation.
5 districts -- Freeburg Community High School District 77, Belleville School District 118, Harmony Emge School District 175, Brooklyn Unit School District 188, Central School District 104 -- were placed under "Early Warning."
8 districts -- O Fallon Community Consolidated School District 90, O Fallon Township High School District 203, Belleville Township High School District 201, High Mount School District 116, Cahokia Unit School District 187, Lebanon Community Unit School District 9, Marissa Community Unit School District 40, Mascoutah Community Unit School District 19 -- were placed under "Financial Review."
No districts were placed under "Financial Watch."
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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