After seeing how much local school districts could be getting from the recently passed federal stimulus bill, the Franklin County Commission is reducing the amount it plans to award schools.
The county was eligible to pay out up to $500 per student out of the $12.1 million it received last year from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It initially paid $250 per student to local school districts and private schools.
But once Joe Biden was inaugurated president, commissioners changed their plan from returning much of the money to the federal government to spending it. Among their first decisions was to give schools the remaining $250 per student.
Although official numbers have yet to be announced, the commissioners determined that schools didn’t need all that money because of what they are receiving from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Commissioners said at a Thursday workshop that they plan to reduce the amount of funding they will provide from he CARES Act to $125 per student from $250.
Along with schools, the county had planned to spend remaining CARES funds on repaying salaries and benefits for police, fire, ambulance and 911 dispatch workers around the county. They now plan to give emergency workers more of the money.
“And other things throughout the county that could benefit as well,” Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said. “We’re going to spread the relief, if you will.”
At its Wednesday board meeting, School District of Washington Assistant Superintendent John McColloch predicted the third round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, part of the American Rescue Plan, will reach $3.3 million, though the district hasn’t sent its application in yet, so it doesn’t know for sure.
That would be 10 times what the district received from the first round of funding, McColloch said.
Union R-XI School District Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold said Thursday the district has not been given an amount of funding it is expected to receive.
CARES money has been used by schools for projects, including expanding Wi-Fi to School District of Washington parking lots and buying enhanced video cameras for Union R-XI buses and used school buses for St. Francis Borgia Regional High School.
Franklin County has $5.75 million in CARES money remaining, according to its website. It is expected to receive $20.2 million from the American Rescue Plan, though it still wasn’t clear what the money could be used for.
Reporter Elena Cruz contributed to this story.