The Half Hollow Hills school board has unanimously approved a $238.7 million budget proposal, with a 2.34 tax levy increase -- equal to the district's tax cap.
The proposed spending plan is $4.4 million more, or about 1.9 percent higher than last year's budget.
The proposal would raise $195.4 million in taxes for the district, accounting for about 82 percent of the district's total budget.
The largest portion of the Half Hollow Hills' spending under the proposal is instruction, which accounts for $132.8 million or nearly 56 percent of the budget.
The district is getting $29 million in state aid, including $4.8 million in building aid. That amounts to $1.7 million more in state aid than the district received in 2014-2015.
The district will use $8.9 million of its reserves and appropriated fund balance in the 2015-2016 budget, about $1.9 million less than it used in the current school year. The 17 percent reduction in spending is a "planned and purposeful reduction" in response to guidance from the state comptroller, said Anne Marie Marrone Caliendo, assistant superintendent for finance and facilities.
Officials also said the budget restores some prior year reductions, including the addition of an elementary health teacher and two reading specialists for academic intervention. It also preserves current instruction and program levels and updates a number of curriculum elements, including a computer program sequence and more options in fine arts, such as filmmaking and photography.
The budget also includes $4 million for new equipment, including new computers and three new buses.
The budget proposal also funds up to six additional English language learning teachers, part of an unfunded state mandate.
District officials have scheduled a hearing on the budget on May 11 in advance of the May 19 vote.
District officials also presented details on what would happen if voters reject the budget on May 19. Under those circumstances, the tax levy can be no greater than the prior year's actual tax levy, resulting in a zero increase, Marrone Caliendo said.
If that happens, the board would need to cut $4.5 million from the current proposal; and spending on capital projects, equipment, some student supplies and school bus purchases would be removed from the budget.