HVAC, health aides and new school buses among plans for more than $7 million for Roaring Fork School District pandemic relief
Roaring Fork School District plans to use more than $7 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds for a wide range of needs.
Stakeholder input helped determine the allocation of funds from two bills, the second and third in the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding stimulus bills, district staff explained during a Sept. 8 board of education meeting. In the 2021-22 school year, the district will spend $2.1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.
From that allotment, it budgeted 38.5% on learning loss recovery, 32.5% on addressing specific needs of individual schools, 25.5% on coordination, preparedness and response efforts and 3.5% on mental and social-emotional health. As currently budgeted, uses of the funds currently exceed the award amount by $226,657, though actual expenditures may be lower than anticipated.
“We will make this money go as far as we can,” Roaring Fork School District Chief Financial Officer Nathan Markham said in the meeting. “The district will be working to find and use additional sources to meet the full cost.”
In his memo to the staff on the budget item, Markham noted that some items may come in under budget. The budget’s biggest item is hiring health aides for each Roaring Fork school. Three of those positions are currently open.
The district received $2.9 million from the Coronavis Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (ESSER II), passed in December 2020 and $4.3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ESSER III) in March. Previously, the district received $676,755 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and has largely spent those funds after its March 2020 passing.
The goal of having full-time health aides in each school will cost $1.62 million across the next three school years and is the highest expenditure in the two bills. It averages out to a $41,000 annual salary for a position at each of the district’s 13 schools.
The second biggest spending project is HVAC servicing for COVID-19 preparation, which will require nearly $1 million in funding from ESSER II plus $300,000 in BEST grant funding through 2023. These improvements will “improve indoor air quality to meet, as best we can, (Center of Disease Control) and public health recommendations,” according to the memo.
A CDC update on ventilation in schools and childcare programs suggested that places of education make sure HVAC systems are serviced, set them to bring in as much outdoor air as safely allowed and increase their total airflow supply to occupied spaces.
Other points coming at a cost greater than $500,000 include placing a full-time guest teacher in each school, adding full time equivalent support to schools to make up for decline in enrollment and the purchase of four new school buses.
An effort to provide internet service to low-income families will cost $172,056 for the next two years. Currently, around 50 families use the service, according to Markham.
The project lists span one-offs to recouping some lost learning from the pandemic year to building infrastructure and stability going forward.
The full breakdown of expenditures is available on the staff memo.
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