Pell Metropolis Board of Training sees giant finances improve due COVID aid funds | Information
CITY OF PELL The Pell City Board of Education’s proposed budget included a total increase of more than $ 8 million, driven primarily by COVID-19 relief funds.
During the Board of Directors’ first budget hearing on Thursday, CFO Tanya Holcombe presented a total budget of $ 52,827,300, an increase from the prior-year figure of $ 44,416,266. According to budget documents, the lion’s share of that surge was caused by federal COVID recovery funds worth $ 6.4 million, which totaled 13 percent of the budget, compared to just 3 percent of last year’s budget. The rest of the increase is due to more modest increases in state, state, and local funding.
Holcombe said that while these funds are certainly valued, they are limited in their uses. For example, she said that most of that money, about $ 4 million from the American Rescue Plan, 20 percent will be used to support learning losses and student needs, while the rest will be used to reduce virus transmission, improve air quality and used to support low income students, special needs students and the improvement of distance learning. How the system then uses these funds must be approved in advance.
“We as a system have to come up with a plan on how to go about this, this plan goes to the state and goes through a lot of people,” said Holcombe. “Actually, Dr. Kristin Harrell and I have been working on it for a few months, and the last version we aired we were told ours was one of the best, even though it was returned three times.”
She said the system plans to use those funds to address topics ranging from summer school to technology upgrades to water bottle fillers at each school to janitorial staff and contract nurses.
Holcombe said the largest project from the RSA fund is the full replacement of the HVAC system at Walter M. Kennedy Elementary School.
“That’s huge,” she said. “This is a $ 2 million project.”
Holcombe said the state had already approved the project.
She said another way COVID-related agents have impacted the school is through classroom sessions.
Holcombe said the system saw its average daily membership decrease by 119.05 students last year, from 4,061.60 students to 3,942.55. These numbers are a count of the average number of students who attend school in the system 20 days after the work day. She said that decline has resulted in 7.54 less teaching units being funded by the state. Even so, documents show that the system has seven more teachers this year than last year, along with six more auxiliaries.
Holcombe said 10.76 of these additional teacher units will be paid for with government stabilization funds. These funds, of which the system received $ 746,563, are intended to help systems deal with COVID-related declines from ADM. She said that purpose is in line with the decline in Pell City numbers, which she mostly carries for parents who chose to home-school their children during the pandemic. Holcombe said the system is already seeing some rebound in ADM numbers this year, with an increase of 61.45 students, although those numbers are not final.
Taylor Mitchell, Daily Home reporter covering Pell City.