Crawford AuSable School District receives federal funding to cover technology and cleaning supplies
Tue, 08/25/2020 - 10:09am caleb
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The Crawford AuSable School District received a pot of money last week, which will be used to pay for cleaning supplies and provide solid connections for on-line learning in order to resume school with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that she will allocate nearly $65 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to Michigan school districts, higher education institutions, and other education-related entities that have been most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Michigan.gov.
The funding comes from the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund.
The school district will receive $101,252 based on a 1,626 student population enrolled. The school district qualified for the funding coming from the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund because it has an enrollment for 1,159 disadvantaged students or 58 percent of the total student population.
Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Justin Gluesing said the allocation equates to $62 per-pupil. He said the Mio AuSable School District and Roscommon school districts received similar amounts, although they have lower student enrollments.
“Per-pupil, we’re all going to be in the same ballpark,” Gluesing said.
Gluesing said the federal funds being funneled through the state will go toward paying for cloth masks, disposable masks, hand sanitizer, hygiene supplies, bottles used to hold cleaning spray, and a large amount of cleaning products.
In addition, the school district has purchased additional Victory Cordless Electrostatic cleaning equipment for use in all buildings and its transportation center. A dozen units were ordered at a cost of $800.
“There has been a sizeable investment in additional items that we wouldn’t have normally purchased,” Gluesing said.
The funding will also go to improve connections for students taking part in the Great Lakes Online Learning program because they and their parents are not comfortable with returning to the classrooms for face-to-face instruction.
The desktop computers for every teacher were equipped with webcams that have high audio and video quality in order to hold staff meetings.
“There has been a lot of added costs for some of those things that we were not anticipating,” Gluesing said.
Some funding will also be earmarked for teacher training to better utilize on-line learning technology and the software that is available.
Whitmer called on federal lawmakers to provide an additional round of stimulus funds to support schools and other state-funded programs.
“As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and approach the start of the new school year, we must continue doing everything we can to protect our students, educators, and support staff. This funding will help us do just that, and ensure crucial support for our schools, whether it’s helping schools access PPE and cleaning supplies or helping students mitigate the impacts of learning loss in districts that need it most,” said Governor Whitmer, according to Michigan.gov. “This is a good start, but we still need the federal government to work together on a bipartisan recovery package to support all Michigan students and educators, as well as state governments, families, and small businesses.”
Gluesing agreed that the federal government should provide an additional safety net for school and states across the nation. That may happen when federal lawmakers return to session.
“I haven’t heard much since that kind of fizzled out,” Gluesing said.
The Crawford AuSable Board of Education adopted its 2020-21 budget for $17 million on July 1.
Gluesing said school officials anticipate that they will receive less per-pupil funding due to people buying less products and gasoline during the state’s stay-at-home order. That has resulted in less sales tax revenues coming to the state.
“This year, starting the year, because of some of these funds that we know have been released to us, it will help us breathe a little easier with some of these costs that we’re incurring,” Gluesing said. “The full budget picture is still unknown, so we’re just moving forward cautiously as well as trying to make sure we provide for the additional supplies and the safety things we do.”
State officials were scheduled to hold a conference this week regarding estimates on state revenues.
“The final effects haven’t played out, so I think we’re going to be more cautious going into the school year and as we get to 2021,” Gluesing said.
Gluesing said shutdowns due to the pandemic would have a dismal impact on school districts across the nation.
“As long as we don’t have another protracted shutdown, I think we’ll be in a better position,” Gluesing said.
Teachers for the school district were scheduled to return to work for two days of professional training this week. The traditional start of the school year is scheduled for Tuesday, September 1.
State Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, said she was pleased that state officials approved a bipartisan plan that will help K-12 students resume education safely this fall.
“We must not let the coronavirus pandemic steal away our children’s education,” Rendon said, according to the Michigan House of Representatives Communications. “A lot has changed since March – we all have a better understanding of what COVID-19 is and how to slow the spread. As we embrace the new year, I am glad this plan is now finalized for our communities. This is the most practical, well-thought out way to get our kids back to school, whether that be in the classroom or virtually.”
Rendon added that she also approved of the CARES ACT funding going to assist school districts.
“There’s no doubt the start of this school year will look quite different from years past,” Rendon said, according to the Michigan House of Representatives Communications. “With that said, we are still moving forward, and our kids will remain on track. I’m proud to represent so many amazing residents in northern Michigan and wish you all a fantastic start to the 2020-21 school year.”