School, parks updated at Forecast Breakfast

Adam Larck TimesNewspapers
Superintendent Dr. Lindsey Hall speaks about financial challenges the district faces at the Morton Forecast Breakfast April 30.

Some of the biggest challenges Morton School District 709 will face this coming year will be from the state.

During the Morton Forecast Breakfast on April 30, Superintendent Dr. Lindsey Hall noted that reduced state funding, unfunded mandates and possible pension and health care reform will all affect the budget the district has for the schools.

Already, the district only gets 7.5 percent of its overall revenue from the state, which Hall said is half of what it was six years ago.

The majority of funding, 85 percent, comes from local property taxes.

“We happen to be very reliant on local property taxes,” Hall said.

In 2012, the tax rate for Morton schools was at 4.75370 percent, which was about in the middle when compared to area schools. Even when new families move in, Hall said their property tax money does not cover the cost of educating new students that come into the district.

She added that 3 percent comes from the federal government and 3 percent comes from fees charged.

In the budget, Hall said the largest fund is the education fund, where 83 percent of it gets paid out in

salary and benefits. An additional 7 percent gets paid to purchased services.

“This is true in all school districts that the vast majority of our budget is devoted to the human resources sector,” she said.

Looking at opportunities the district will see next year, Hall noted that there continues to be growth to help the EAV and continued growth in the district.

She also said there will be opportunities to find alternative funding sources and to maintain the standard of excellence.

Morton parks

Plenty of upgrades have been completed for the parks in Morton and more upgrades are planned, according to Holly Olden.

At Westwood Park, work on the second baseball park is planned, along with a bike trail extension. Birchwood Park has no lighting and a renovated concession stand, and the parking will eventually be expanded and repaired.

Also seeing increased parking over the summer is McClellen Park, where a new press box and PA system has also been completed.

Work is starting on the pavilion at Idlewood Park, which is being done by the Morton Fine Arts Association.

The park will get the pavilion after it is completed.

Once the pavilion is complete the park district will add restrooms and a concession stand as well.

Additionally, Olden said that the district is looking into programs that will allow for online registration for park programs.