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COVID-19 costs detailed for Greencastle-Antrim School Board

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The Greencastle-Antrim School District's expenditures related to COVID-19 are an estimated $1 million for the current school year.

The 2020-21 budget includes $400,000 set aside for expenditures related to coronavirus health and safety. Many of the other COVID-19 costs for the current year have been covered by federal and state grants, but that may not be the case next year, Caroline Royer, chief financial officer said during a review of the numbers at the Oct. 15 school board meeting.

In a survey to assess the district's reopening during the pandemic, the majority of parents and students indicated they feel schools are safe.

"I think it's because of these items," Royer said.

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The district received an ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) grant for $270,577 through the federal CARES Act. Many of the expenditures were already part of the operational budget. The biggest portion, $128,343 went to school nurses, followed lease payment for teacher laptops, $45,702. ESSER funds also were used for instruction, transportation and security.

The bulk of a COVID-19 Safety and Security Grant for $236,006 is being used for the first two years of leasing an iPad for every middle school student. The iPads, part of the district's Equal Technology Opportunities initiative, cost $178,136 for two years.

The rest of the safety and security grant, administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crimes and Delinquency, is going to the nuts and bolts associated with COVID-19:

Face shields, gloves and hand sanitizer: $5,056

Food service supplies: $3,083

Water bottle fillers: $3,994

Sprayers, disinfectant and wipes: $32,979

Touchless toilets and sinks: $10,058

Neverware site license: $2,700

"It sounds enormous, but I think it's manageable," Royer said. If expenditures can be maintained "we're not adding to the capital fund balance, but we're not hurting it."

Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent, added that administrators are already looking at ways to reduce operational costs.

A tax increase could add $900,000 to the revenue side of the budget and Royer hopes earned income tax revenues return to last year's level. This year's budget included lower earned income tax revenues due to COVID-19 and the district is seeing a decrease in recent collections.

Another expense that will need to be factored into the 2021-22 budget is salary increases after teachers and administrators agreed to a salary freeze that saved $448,344 for the current year.