Heyworth Community Unit School District 4 placed on financial "Recognition" 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 McLean County, 6 of the county's 9 school districts (66 percent) earned the "Financial Recognition" designation.
No districts were placed under "Early Warning."
3 districts -- LeRoy Community Unit School District 2, McLean County Unit School District 5, El Paso Gridley Community Unit School District 11 -- 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.