Hopkins County Schools will receive $1.5 million from the coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act towards its $77.49 million tentative budget, which was passed at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.
The tentative budget is down $1 million from the current fiscal year’s $78.5 million budget.
The CARES funds will go towards continuing summer food services, possibly recouping lost inventory, and new technologies. The funds come through the Kentucky Department of Education through two categories.
The first is the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. The district received $1,323,300 from that fund. The second is the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, with the school receiving $227,000, said the district’s Director of Finance and Business Eydie Tate.
The school district received the allocations Friday and will have to submit a spending plan to the state by June 30, said Tate. Everything right now is tentative. She said the district is looking at using the funds for new Chromebooks for teachers and creating more internet access for students.
Tate said she feels like the amount they were given was sufficient, but is unsure what the future holds. As of now, CARES Act funding is a one-time thing.
“When you say we’re getting $1.5 million that sounds like a lot, but when you talk about all of those purchases, and what it costs us to do the things that we do for the 6,000 kids that are Hopkins County Schools students, it doesn’t go as far as you think it might,” she said.
The Hopkins County Board of Education met Monday night, with Tate presenting the CARES Act information and the proposed 2020-21 tentative budget, which has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve always had a very financially sound, stable budget and reserve. Overall, the budget impact reduced our reserves by $700,000, which the majority of that was from property tax revenues,” she said. “That reserve you want to keep stable, so eventually, it’s going to impact our district. I don’t foresee any new revenue sources.
“This CARES Act money is going to be available to keep things stable, but that’s a one-time thing. Hopefully, we don’t need it every year, and our economy and everything is restored, and we have steady income flows at the state level to support public education.”
Because of the pandemic’s impact, the state gave districts the option to use the numbers from the 2018-19 school year’s Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding. SEEK funds are granted on a per-pupil base and are the most significant amount of funds provided by the state, Tate said.
The district chose to use the 2018-19 numbers after analyzing the data and accessing the risk of losing dollars for not transporting students during the NTI days. The SEEK funds are budgeted for $26.9 million, which is a 3% reduction from the previous year or a reduction of $845,155, said Tate.
“KDE is trying to keep things as stable as possible on their end, and not impact school districts with budget cuts that they might see,” she said. “I do foresee that eventually coming down, but hopefully they won’t have to touch our SEEK revenue.”
By anticipating the probability of collections being down from property taxes, Tate said the district’s tentative budget was reduced 5%, that’s a decrease of $653,381.
“We always say we do more with less, and we have been a financially conservative district, we don’t have those kinds of revenue sources, we don’t have the utility tax or extra building fund revenues. We use what we have,” she said.
During the meeting, the board approved the districts’ salary schedule for its employees. Tate said before the meeting, there won’t be a salary increase this coming year. Instead, they have left the salaries the same as the 2019-20 academic year.
District Sup. Dr. Deanna Ashby said they are watching their finances closely as they anticipate a mid-year cut in SEEK. The district had anticipated receiving their Title 1 funds at the end of April, but have not received them yet.
“We are really watching our staffing and being very cautious as we move forward,” she said. “We will have more information to share with you all in our next meeting, especially about COVID and moving into the ‘20-’21 school year.”
Ashby said she was thankful for all the staff, students and families in the community as they have donated over $30,000 for the summer feeding program and Backpack Blessings.
The next Board of Education meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 1.
In other school-related news:
• There will be a principal selection meeting for the Grapevine Elementary School Site-Based Council, to continue the principal selection process. The committee will meet to review applicants and conduct scheduled interviews. The meeting will be at the Hopkins County Board of Education Central Office, located at 320 South Seminary Street, beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday.
• Pride Elementary School Site-Based Council will hold a virtual meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday. The link will be posted on the school website.