School Finance and Building Upgrade Q & A

Financial Statements & Graphic

  1. Our fund balances remain strong. I project we will have around $3.3 million in reserves at the end of this fiscal year.
  2. I project we will have around $750,000 of reserves in the Building Fund at the end of this fiscal year. 
  3. Our local levy increases remain low.
  4. Our school tax rate projects to be at a 4-year low this year and continues to be the lowest around.
  5. Earnings on investments are at an all-time high.
  6. Total food service revenue is at an all-time high.
  7. We have secured $144,400 in building grants from the state over the course of the last few years. 
  8. We have received $575,301 in Knox County penny sales tax revenue since voters approved the tax. This money can only be used for capital improvements.
  9. In my first year, Building Fund expenditures were at their lowest level since 2010. Only after we had over $1 million surplus in the Building Fund did we decide to begin strategically spending down the balance on much needed building upgrades.
  10. Technology expenditures since my arrival have risen out of need. That said, 58% of this investment ($66,041) has been made with federal grant money. This strategy was highlighted by the United States Department of Education in their 2016 National Education Technology Plan.

Audited numbers to support the statements above are included in the graphic below. The information contained within the graphic can be found in our annual financial reports located online HERE.


School Finance

  1. How does the local levy work? Each December our school district submits a levy request to the County Clerk. The County Assessor submits local property values to the Clerk as well. Those two values combine to determine the local school tax rate. We levy based upon projected expenditures, cash on hand, and stability of other revenue streams (e.g., state funding). Our annual levy goal is to have the lowest tax rate around while maintaining as consistent a rate as possible for our local tax payers. At the end of the day, we are solely responsible for the amount of money we levy and indirectly responsible for the tax rate (the rate is also dependent on property values, homeowner exemptions, etc.).
  2. How does our school tax rate compare to others in the area? Our rate projects to be $4.22 for the 2015 taxing year. Our's went down, everyone else's went up. See below for previous year's rates from some of our neighbors. (UPDTAED 2/6/16)
    • Williamsfield $4.22 (2015)
    • ROWVA $4.55 (2014)
    • Knoxville $4.56 (2014)
    • Galva $4.72 (2014)
    • Brimfield $4.73 (2014)
    • Farmington $5.13 (2014)
    • Elmwood $5.28 (2014)
    • Princeville $5.72 (2014)
  3. How much does the levy increase from year to year? Schools increase their levy from year to year to handle cost increases. They do so within the confines of voter approved rates for the major funds. For example, the maximum rate we can levy in our Education Fund is $3.43. From 2006 to 2012, our average levy increase was 5.16%. Levy's approved since my arrival represent increases of 0.69%, 1.74%, and 3.37%. My levy's have been extremely conservative. Those levy request's, coupled with EAV, led to tax rates of $4.38, $4.38, and a projected $4.22 this year.   
  4. Is levy revenue guaranteed? Yes. Death & taxes, isn't that how the saying goes? All joking aside, property tax money is collected and distributed by our County Clerk. State & federal governments are not involved in this process. Our levy request for this coming year is currently $3,415,286 ($111,400 more than last year).
  5. What about state money? How is that impacting our school? State revenue only accounts for about 10% of our overall revenue. What the state does or doesn't do impacts us less than all the other districts around. For example, 29% of Elmwood's and 30% of Princeville's annual revenue comes from the state. It's also important to note that the state only provides annual revenue for the Education Fund and the Transportation Fund. The Building Fund & the Capital Improvement Fund are the only ones we can use for building upgrades. All of that said, the two big state issues were are preparing for are a funding formula change and a teacher's pension cost shift. Both of those issues will impact Education and Transportation Fund revenue. State funding does not directly impact Building or Capital Improvement Fund revenue. 
  6. How do those "teacher buyouts" effect our bottom line? Providing retirement incentives to employees is a common practice in many fields. In our case, it will result in an estimated net gain of $62,000 by June 2018. In addition, the district & WEA negotiated a collective bargaining agreement projected to result in a $25,000 increase in total teacher's contract expenditures in 3 years. That's a mere 1.5% total increase in the span of 3 years. With over 80% of expenditures dedicated to payroll, those savings, as well as a base teaching salary of $40,000, put our district in a very strong financial & teacher recruitment/retention position.
  7. It seems like we have been spending a lot of money on building upgrades. Is all of this really necessary? There are two sections to our building. One is 50+ years old and the other is 30+. Up until the last couple of years, not much had been done. We started with infrastructure (Ameren electric/gas feeds, fiber connectivity from Mid-Century, wireless network), proceeded to classrooms (dry erase boards, fresh paint, re-purposing spaces, LCD projectors), renovated the kitchen, and upgraded highly visible public spaces (commons, restrooms, hall lockers, gym, outdoor facilities). We began tackling issues with our roof which has leaked for 30 years. From a classroom standpoint we are almost there. Our Science classes and Music classroom are next on the list. As for building security, our summer upgrade proposal will put us real close to where we want to be. Long story short, not much has been done to our building in the 30+ years since the newest section was built. That is why we've had to increase expenditures in that area as of late.     

Building Upgrades

  1. What is a STEM Center? A STEM Center is a collaborative lab space with equipment and materials to help students build skills in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Our proposed STEM Center will be located adjacent to the MS Science classrooms a short walk from the Chemistry/Physics and Agriculture/Construction classrooms. The Center would contain wet labs, working gas, proper exhaust, proper safety equipment, and engaging tools to help all kids build skill. This space would be accessible to all students in grades PK-12. Elementary STEM (each grade has STEM once/week), 5th-8th grade Science, and HS Science courses will directly utilize the space for courses. Our STEM team will also utilize the space and it will be available for other uses as well.
  2. Why not just renovate the current Life Science lab and the current Chemistry/Physics lab? Space for space, it would be more expensive than transforming the current district office. The 50+ year old Life Science lab would need a complete overhaul to add an exhaust hood, an eye wash station, and an emergency shower. Both locations would require Chemical resistant lab tops in order to conduct proper experiments. Neither lab would be directly available for PK-5 or Agricultural course use.  
  3. Why move/consolidate offices? Moving the district office allows us to utilize the current district office space for the STEM Center. Moving the main office to the currently under-utilized old locker room space will increase security within our building. Visitors will be viewable prior to entry and be able to check in right as they enter the building. Our current check-in location is in the middle of the building, which for security reasons, is not ideal. Also, with our current set-up visitors to the Principal's Office are frequently exposed to student health and discipline issues. Efficiency in administrative processes and one location for parents/visitors to go for information will also be ideal.


If you have additional questions or would like more information please do not hesitate to contact me at 309.639.2219 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Tim Farquer, Superintendent/Curriculum Director
Williamsfield Schools

Contact Us

325 Kentucky Avenue
Williamsfield, IL, 61489
School Office: (309)-639-2216
District Office: (309)-639-2219