Madison-Plains feels pandemic’s financial impact

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(Posted July 22, 2020)

Josephine Birdsell, Staff Writer

Madison-Plains Local Schools expects to face an overall budget reduction of $405,252 for the 2020-21 school year as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The district will see a federal funding reduction of $342,619 in 2021, equivalent to the amount of funding lost during the previous school year, and totaling a funding reduction of $685,238 for the fiscal year.

The district also expects to see a 5 percent reduction in the amount of funding it typically collects from income taxes, due to local layoffs in the wake of COVID-19. The income tax collection reduction is expected to total roughly $105,000.

“Along with being a health crisis, (COVID-19) is a financial crisis as well,” said Todd Mustain, district treasurer.

However, the district will receive an additional $38,158 in state Wellness Funding that may help to offset the financial losses. Wellness Funding is determined based on the rate of impoverished residents in a given school district. Since the previous school year, Madison-Plains’ poverty rate rose 2.4 percent to 29.2 percent.

“Last year, we used (Wellness) funds for student nurse contracts and our student psychologist contract. We will use the funds for a similar purpose in fiscal year 2021,” Mustain said.

The district is also set to receive an additional $68,567 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding, on top of the $160,726 it previously received.

The district saved $51,188 in the 2019-20 school year through personnel reductions and reductions on bus fuel. However, it does not expect to see similar savings in the 2020-21 school year as classes are set to resume in person in the fall.

Rather, the district expects to incur an additional expense of $102,710 for personal protective equipment and instructional costs as a result of the pandemic. Personal protective equipment includes cleaning supplies, sanitizer and desk shields to separate students who cannot effectively socially distance. Instructional costs include additional Chromebooks for students who opt to attend school online, as well as online teaching software.

The instructional costs and personal protective equipment costs could change as the district responds to COVID-19 throughout the school year, Mustain said.

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