Moffat County School District is financially fine, looks to spend CARES Act money in 2021
Editor’s Note: This article updates the financial picture of the Moffat County School District. Previously, the Craig Press erroneously reported that the district was operating at a deficit.
The Moffat County School District’s Board of Education adopted an amended budget during the Jan. 28 meeting, which showed the budget increase by more than $385,000. Much of that increase comes from CARES Act funding, which the school district received in 2020 but will spend in 2021.
“We are spending less than our budget,” said John Wall, the district’s finance director. “We were given CARES act money last year that we are not spending until this year on coronavirus type stuff.”
Prior to the amended budget, the school district budgeted to use $470,000 from savings this year in order to keep people employed as the economic downturn took its toll on the school district. The school made approximately $1 million in cuts to further the attempt to save jobs at the schools.
While the district might be technically operating at a deficit on the bottom line, Wall stated that MCSD is financially fine and is following the line items of the previous adopted budget prior to the start of the school year.
“We are financially fine,” Wall added.
The school district is not overspending, Wall said, but they are taking money out of the district’s savings to cover costs that are associated with the unexpected loss of revenue from COVID-19 and needed upgrades to the security system.
One of those costs for the district is to update the security systems within the district, which are aging. Students are still very safe within the schools, but the district wants to get out in front of any potential issues with the aging systems, which operate on a fob system to allow access to the buildings.
The security system upgrades are budgeted to cost between $150,000 and $200,000, which is expected to drop the ending fund balance for the district from roughly $7.08 million to roughly $6.79 million. At the end of the year, the school district will still have $7 million in the bank according to Superintendent Scott Pankow.
LOAD LIMITS AT SUNSET ELEMENTARY
Wall clarified that the roof at Sunset Elementary School is finished and safe for students to attend the school. However, the last thing that needs to be done is the electricity for the heat tracing technology, which melts snow on the roof.
“We’re going in and we’re cleaning that up. That’s standard practice; you finish a job and you keep a retainer, to say now you’ve got to finish all this little stuff,” Wall said. “The guy came in, did an inspection and now he wants us to do a little bit more work in this area and we are going to clean that up. Right now, it’s difficult to do because you can’t get on a roof in February.”
RETURN TO FULL TIME, IN-PERSON LEARNING
The school district is still making a plan as to whether or not to go back to full time in the fourth quarter. Superintendent Pankow said that the middle school and high school would go back after spring break, depending on when their quarter ends. If the school district is allowed to go back to full time in person, the safety protocols in regards to wearing masks and social distancing would still be in place. While Pankow did note that this is still pending, and could change very quickly between today and when it would actually be put in place in March.
The district would have to consider multiple factors coming together to reconsider the return to full time, in-person learning, including the following:
-Community positivity rate decrease
-Availability of vaccinations for staff
-Data and evidence emerging showing that schools do not increase the spread of COVID-19 and are actually “safer” in regards to the spread
-Ongoing collaboration and discussion with Moffat County Public Health
MCHS and CMS will work on plans for returning students to full-time instruction after Spring Break. These plans will be presented to the Board of Education for approval at the February 18, 2021 meeting.
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