In response to the increased expenses for reopening schools and supporting distance learning, the district revised budgets and eliminated non-essential spending. The money will be used for preserving health and sanitation as well as providing educational resources.
The increased expenditures include hundreds of thousands of cloth and disposable masks and classroom air filters. The district purchased a Qualtrics system, which enables schools to screen everyone coming onto campus and set up a database in case an outbreak happens.
“There has been a freeze on employee travel, such as conferences and out-of-the-area meetings,” Superintendent Denise Jaramillo said. “We sometimes purchase new equipment for our grounds or facilities department, [but] we are putting those on hold for now. We have held off on hiring clerical or other support positions.”
One-time federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act can provide relief for financial problems. The money funds personal protective and technology equipment, the distribution of meals to students through curbside pickup, additional instructional supplies, and support for high needs students during virtual learning.
“A major part of the challenges the district has had to address is the sheer number of varying factors we have had to consider and implement quickly,” Assistant Superintendent of Financial Services Josephine Quach said. “We must balance student and teacher needs, safety, resources, and most importantly, the cost to meet all of these areas.”
Even if students do not consume school meals, the district encourages them to sign up to receive free or reduced lunch as funding is based on student eligibility. The funds act as site money for supporting special projects like robotics.
“Although students don’t need to apply this year to receive the meals, the District will lose about $4 million next year if we do not have the same number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch as we did last year,” Jaramillo said.
There will be a board presentation providing updates about the budget in December.