Community Finance Advisory Committee

Community Finance Advisory Committee

The Community Finance Advisory Committee, or CFAC, is an outcome of the district's Strategic Plan and a follow-up to the Finance Advisory Committee of 2013. The 2013 committee was charged with making several recommendations to the Board, including the target range for the size of the total fund balance, expectations for an operating referendum, guidelines for future tax levies, and communications strategies. After completing its work, the committee was dissolved.

The charge to the current committee is to revisit and revise the 2013 recommendations as needed. District members of the committee are Board member Craig Iseli, Chief Financial Officer Cyndi Sidor, Director of Buildings and Grounds Fred Preuss, and Accountant Alyssa Alfano. Community members are Silvia Brito-Todd, Kim Hoyt, Gregory Kolar, Steve Miller, and Sharada Sullivan.

Meeting Summaries

August 28, 2019
The committee discussed the tentative budget presented to the Committee of the Whole on August 13, 2019, including the decrease in revenues from the property tax relief grant and the abatement on the 2018 tax levy, the differences in FY19 actuals and FY20 tentative budget figures, and the impact of Imagine OPRF Phase 1. COO Mike Carioscio noted that the District will present at the next Board meeting on the construction schedule. Construction dollars are estimated as follows: $36.2 million for Phase 1 for three-four years, $4 million annual capital improvement work for four years, and $5.1M of Health Life Safety work.

The Business Office will be preparing five-year projections with different levy scenarios for the committee to view at the next meeting. There are many factors to consider when preparing the 2019 tax levy, and the only way to understand the changes are to put them in perspective over the next five years.

May 15, 2019
Brian Hextell of PMA Financial Network provided a brief overview of PMA and Prudent Man Advisors LLC. Mr. Hextell proposed an additional investment opportunity the District could pursue with Prudent Man, an investment adviser that actively manages the District’s portfolio based on its needs. Prudent Man would create a laddered portfolio, i.e., planning the District’s investments around the normal business cash flows. The investment ladder would take into account the dates of our accounts payable and payroll check runs along with expected expenditures, strategically use maturing investments to fund these obligations. This would not create anymore work for the District but would produce a higher yield. All investments would be governed by state statute and the District’s investment policy.

It was noted that the District will be updating its investment policy to account for recent changes in state statute regarding corporate notes. The District’s investment policy is standardized and similar to other school districts, as school districts are very limited in types of investments in accordance with Illinois Public Funds Investment Act 30 ILCS 235/.

April 17, 2019
CFO Cyndi Sidor provided an update on the budgeting process; the preliminary budget is almost complete. Improvements underway in the Business Office include developing an approval process for conferences, professional development, and field trips; automating the the free and reduced lunch application process; researching cost sharing for buses and their accompanying insurance liability; and going green by using electronic payments instead of paper checks. 

Elizabeth Hennessy, managing director of Raymond James Public Finance, provided an overview of borrowing options for the district. Currently, D200 does not have any debt. With Imagine OPRF Facilities Project 1 on the horizon, knowing the district’s borrowing options and the potential impact of each type of bond is important.  The district’s bond rating is Aa1 from Moody’s and AAA from Standard and Poor’s. The district has tried to increase its Moody’s rating, but due to the State of Illinois’ financial condition, that is unlikely.

Ms. Sidor discussed the district's basis of accounting, explaining that the main concern about switching to a cash basis is the risk of dropping our high bond rating with Standard & Poor’s. The district is requesting to remain on a modified accrual basis of accounting for the audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and the state Annual Financial Report (AFR) form. However, the district would like to budget on a cash basis since the internal records are kept on a cash basis. The district can provide a reconciliation at the end-of-year after the accruals are prepared to show any large variances in the budget, cash basis, and accruals prepared.

The committee recommendation is that the district internally report on a cash basis, which includes the annual budget, and externally continue to report on a modified accrual basis for ISBE’s Annual Financial Report and the audited CAFR.

March 20, 2019
CFO Cyndi Sidor provided an update on the district's budgeting process. For 2019-2020, budget managers were asked to reduce expenditures by 10% in order to achieve the Board's goal of having a balanced budget. The tentative budget will be presented to the Board in May. 

Rob Grossi, president of Crystal Financial Consultants, provided an overview of the district's finances, including a historical view of revenues, expenditures, fund balance, and property value per pupil. Dr. Grossi discussed factors that will affect the future financial condition of the district, including Consumer Price Index, new taxable property, two tax increment financing (TIF) districts expiring in the near future, and the uncertainty about the state shifting pension costs to districts. 

There was discussion regarding last fiscal year's ending fund balance of $106 million. The district has committed $32.6 million to Imagine OPRF Facilities Project 1. The district also is required by Board policy 4:20 to target an overall fund balance between 25% and 75% of operating cash flow. Dr. Grossi advised that with the state likely shifting pension costs to the district and the size of subsequent Imagine projects, the fund balance will be spent down more quickly than it might seem. 

Feb. 26, 2019
This first meeting of the new CFAC started with an update of current Business Office projects. Steve Miller of Forecast 5 Analytics, Inc., and also a CFAC member gave a presentation on why preparing a financial forecast is important.  The post-presentation discussion focused on the importance of a five-year projection, key drivers in cost, and main sources of revenue.