Boonville school board reviews 2020-21 budget

Charles Dunlap
Boonville Daily News

The Boonville School District will not have to dip into reserves for the 2020-21 fiscal year after COVID-19-related cuts were incorporated into the budget.

The district allocated Coronavirus Aid, Economic Relief and Security, or CARES Act, funding into the budget and the anticipated state budget deficit for education funding, Superintendent Sarah Marriott said.

“We made some reductions at the district level by not replacing some staff that left either due to retirement or resignation,” she said. “Through attrition we were able to reduce our overall budget costs.”

The district will receive $220,000 in relief bill funding through its title allocation. While this seems like a significant amount, it is part of a $19 million budget. It also received a nearly $27,00 grant from the Boonville Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Central Missouri to purchase hotspots for student virtual learning.

The district is reducing some supply purchases and travel for district staff. So, travel reimbursements for staff seeking professional development at seminars or conferences received cuts. Staff will have to seek out virtual seminars for professional development.

“We are not sure on student travel at this time, but regarding teacher travel or staff travel, those are going to be significantly reduced,” Marriott said. “We are considering field trips, but nothing has been determined at this point.”

The district also is seeking relief bill funding from the just over $2 million the Copper County Commission is distributing to county governmental entities, nonprofits, agencies and businesses. The district, if it has eligible expenses, also will seek Missouri State Emergency Management Agency reimbursements.

“We continue to look for grant opportunities,” Marriott said.

A majority of district expenses come from staff pay and benefits. There were not any significant changes for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The base pay rate remains the same for certified teachers and more experienced teachers will continue to receive step raises.

The district is making plans to reopen Aug. 24 for the 2020-21 school year. This step includes meals, technology needs and student and staff safety.

The district has contracted with Prairie Farm/Central to provide dairy products, bread is coming from Bimbo Bakeries and Kohl Wholesale is the food service provider.

District staff are meeting in small committees to make other reopening plans. They are looking at health, sanitation, personnel and curriculum, Marriott said.

“They are providing guidance and recommendations to the board of education,” she said. “They will also send out some surveys to staff as well as our families to gauge some interest, as well as answer some questions as additional information that we are needing.”

The district, for example, needs to know about student technology access. The district is not yet 1-to-1, or each student has a district-issued device. Technology department staff are creating an inventory to see how many devices are available for students and if any need replacing.

“We are not a 1-to-1 district at this point, but that is something we are looking to be able to move forward to if we have funding that allows for that,” Marriott said.

The plans crafted by the planning committees are a baseline for how the district will reopen.

“We are continuing to make plans, but it is difficult at this point to say with confidence [the plan will address] the exact scenario we are going to have for the fall because everyone is well aware, the situation changes very rapidly,” Marriott said.

The committees are looking at safety plans, including mask requirements and temperature screenings, but nothing is decided at this point.

“We have tossed around some ideas and are continuing to research and gather information from the local health department, as well as state and [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines,” Marriott said. “It’s still too early to say what we are going to do.”