Crumbling asphalt in Downers Grove Grade School District 58 playgrounds and parking lots are on tap for replacement in a $68.3 million budget approved by school board members this month.
The tentative 2013- spending plan, however, shows an $800,000 shortfall, a sign of what could be a difficult financial year for the district, officials said.
About $700,000 is budgeted for asphalt repair at most of the district's schools. Another $1.5 million is earmarked for the three-classroom addition at Pierce Downer, scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the school year. Belle Aire, Fairmount, El Sierra, Henry Puffer, Highland, Indian Trail, Lester and Whittier are all scheduled for asphalt replacements, as is O'Neill Middle School. Officials plan to move about $2.2 million to the capital projects fund to help complete both projects.
District controller Jim Popernik said the facilities overspending is controllable, but the district could be in for a tough year. One factor contributing to the financial strain, he said, is that there will be fewer staff members retiring this year.
District officials expect about $64.7 million in revenue in 2013-14,
"The district's financial condition, stability and strength are definitely weakening," Popernik said. "As a result, the fund balances in all funds will erode during the year."
Those balances are estimated to drop from $28 million to $24.4 million by June 2014. The most notable spending is slated for the life safety and the working cash budgets, in which very modest revenues are outweighed by seven-figure expenditures.
The $800,000 gap is in the education fund and can be traced to revenue reductions at state and federal levels.
"We had shortfalls in all of those areas, which add up to $800,000," Popernik said.
To respond to the deficit, Popernik recommended shifting $900,000 from the medical reserve fund — which had a surplus — to the education fund. Popernik also said that the district stands to receive half of that $800,000 within the next two months.
Like many districts, District 58 is still owed money from the state, about $700,000 by last count, officials said.
Popernik said the other revenue items are in line with the district's projections.
The district's budget hearing is scheduled for Sept. 9.