Budget allocates for additional social workers

Laine Cibulskis, News Editor

The Plainfield District 202 Board of Education approved the 2019-20 operating budget last month with a surplus of up to $2.4 million based on current revenue projections.

The new budget allocates for additional staff positions within the district including several social workers.

Assistant Superintendent for Building and Operations Richard Engstrom said, “The big focus this year is increasing the number of social workers in the district.”

“The need for more support surrounding social and emotional issues of our students has increased tremendously. By hiring additional social workers, we are trying to be more proactive for all our students,” Engstrom said.

Director of Community Relations Tom Hernandez, in a June 24 press release, said, “The final 2019-20 budget includes 30 new staff positions including 20 new social workers. School-level funding will not change, and departmental initiatives will be fully funded.”

According to Engstrom, the proposed fiscal plan is balanced, in addition to keeping property taxes as low as possible and maintains the “recognition” status (the highest ranking possible) on the State Board of Education Financial Profile.

In 2012, District 202 earned “watch” status, the lowest possible ranking, and, in 2016, received the “Recognition” status.

According to Hernandez, “Total revenues are expected to be $327.7 million in 2019-20, up from $313.6 last year, or 4.5 percent.”

The surplus is distributed throughout the district depending on the individual needs of schools.

“The $2.4 million is shared throughout the whole district as needs arise due to unforeseen circumstances.  We always take into consideration that the budget is a working document, and you can’t always predict what might happen,” Engstrom said.