FEMA says education is not considered an emergency service, general funds will suffer

 School districts will have to dig into their general funds to find monies for COVID-related expenses that they thought would be coming from the federal government.

 FEMA has announced that they will not consider education an emergency service, which means that they will only cover costs for supplies used to clean a space where a positive case was confirmed while school was in session.

 Meade County Schools Superintendent Mark Martin says that they were led to believe that 75 percent of additional costs related to COVID would be covered by federal dollars.

 “Now, we are told that minimal costs will be covered,” said Martin.

 chools across the country are facing financial strain this year due to the pandemic. In addition to the added cost of PPE and cleaning supplies, many districts have had to make capital investments in virtual learning infrastructures. State funding continues to decline, and districts have unanswerable questions about how virtual learning numbers will interact with enrollment figures that determine funding. The Kentucky Department of Education was also told by officials to reduce its budget.

 This district raised taxes this year, partly due to the increased operating costs brought about by the pandemic.

 Martin says that the they knew they were going to have to use some general fund dollars to cover costs, but it looks like they’ll be spending a lot more than anticipated. Martin is hopeful that the district will only have to spend $100,000 to $200,000 from the general fund, but it could be more.

 “We will know more in the spring as far as how much this will impact our general fund,” said Martin.

 CARES money will offset some of the cost, but many of those funds have been used already. Martin, however, is optimistic about the district’s financial future.

 “We’ve got to move on,” said Martin. “We’ve tried to be as fiscally responsible as possible. Luckily, this is a one-time thing and not a reoccurring issue. We hopefully won’t be in a pandemic a few years from now.”

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