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Spending on safe school restarts

Spending on safe school restarts

The Board of School District (SD) 46 endorsed a proposed spending plan for the first half of its $1.2 million in federal “safe return to school” funds at its Oct. 14 meeting.
This one-time funding related to the COVID-19 pandemic was provided to the Province, which allocated it to public school districts based on enrollment numbers. The second half of the funding is anticipated to be distributed later this year.
SD46s plan is to split the majority of the funds received to date between learning supports and health/safety enhancements at district schools. Under the learning support category, $150,000 will be allocated to help fund schools that have declining enrollment. As of the end of September, enrollment at school facilities is down about six percent over anticipated levels. Enrollment at the district’s distanced learning SPIDER program has jumped from about 73 students last year to
Individual school budgets are based on enrollment. To avoid mid-year layoffs or staff transfers between district schools and programs, the board agreed to provide the portion of the federal funds and a $500,000 mid-year distribution of unrestricted surplus to individual schools as needed.
Three hundred thousand of the federal money allocated to learning supports is being earmarked for outdoor learning facilities. SD46 Secretary-Treasurer Nicholas Weswick stated that no detailed plans for these items have been finalized. These are intended to be temporary structures, such as tents, that can be used for more “wet weather friendly” open-air learning spaces at each district school location.
Most of the spending on health and safety is being allocated to increase custodial staffing and supply budgets. A portion will also go to improvements to school facilities, including more air filtration and installing automatic shut off faucets to help reduce water waste while supporting increased hand washing. A $60,000 bump up for higher utility costs related to more frequent air exchanges needed to help maintain safer school environments will be covered.
In addition, funds have been budgeted to increase food supports in schools and to enhance school bussing. Weswick noted that details on student transportation enhancements will require negotiations with the district’s bussing contractor.
Connie Jordison

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