WINCHESTER — The Frederick County School Board voted 6-1 last week to approve buying 19 school buses with money saved as a result of schools being closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic closed schools in Virginia in late March. Frederick County Public Schools reopened for the 2020-21 academic year on Sept. 8.

Patty Camery, the school division’s executive director of finance, said the division has $1,976,978 in unobligated funds in the fiscal 2020 operating budget related to coronavirus savings. The board OK’d that amount being shifted to the FY21 budget to buy the new buses. The Board of Supervisors must now approve the adjustment.

School Board member Brandon Monk was the lone dissenting vote. He said he wanted the board to consider other possible needs within the school division before making a decision.

“I want to be abundantly clear, I’m not against buses, not against even this money going in that way,” Monk said. “I’m just saying that it’s prudent for this board to give it time for consideration.”

FCPS has 89 buses that are 16 years old or older, division Superintendent David Sovine told the board. There are 36 buses that have 200,000 to 250,000 miles on them. Another 50 buses have more than 250,000 miles on them, Sovine said.

Funding for only one new school bus was included in the fiscal 2020 budget, and that was for Jordan Springs Elementary School, which opened for the first time on Sept. 8. Earlier this year, Sovine cut 13 replacement buses from his FY20 budget proposal.

The $1.9 million in savings is attributed to $425,552 in state sales tax revenue, $442,846 in savings from payroll expenditures, $542,749 in savings in utilities and fuel and $565,831 in savings from a spending freeze that was implemented in the division.

In addition to the $1.9 million, there was $2,271,921 in surplus funds in the school operating fund.

The board also approved an FY21 budget adjustment to carry forward an additional $294,942 to its operating fund for “restricted for specific purposes.”

Camery shared an update on additional spending by the division that qualifies for funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). As of Sept. 4, Camery said coronavirus-related spending by the division has totaled $2,434,428. The coronavirus expenses are ongoing, she said.

The additional COVID-19 spending by the division breaks down as follows:

Childcare — $376,000

Meals program — $566,470

Internet hot spots — $165,000

Personal protective equipment (PPE) — $385,670

Technology — $201,739

Disinfectant/sanitizers — $471,890

Temperature checks — $17,496

Water — $20,721

Storage containers — $123,200

Other — $106,242

Various revenues through the CARES Act provided to the division include $1,140,365 from the elementary and secondary school emergency relief fund, $52,262 for special education and $3,561,152 from CARES Act funding provided to Frederick County.

Attending Tuesday’s School Board meeting at the division’s administration building at 1415 Amherst St. were Superintendent David Sovine and Frederick County School Board Chairman Jay Foreman. School Board members in attendance were Shontyá Washington, Brandon Monk, Brian Hester, Bradley Comstock, Frank Wright and Vice Chairman Michael Lake. The meeting was held in-person with limited capacity. The meeting was livestreamed on YouTube.

— Contact Anna Merod at amerod@winchesterstar.com

(11) comments

Jasba64

Liberal wasteful spending.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Oh right! Because kids won't ever need the buses to get to school!

Dim...

Doc Samson

And you know they need them immediately? When's the last time you checked out the mechanical state of the buses or talked to the mechanics, o short one?

Bryan.the.Nuri

Funny you say that, because, unlike you, I have been to the bus shop and talked to them in person. They have already been on the record that the buses are in dire need of repair and maintenance, highlighted when the bus burned on the exit ramp on 37. That bus needed to be sent back on recall, but there were not enough buses in the shop that could run the route while this was being returned. The drivers I spoke to said the buses were wearing down and needed constant repair. The mechanic I talked to said they were cannibalizing old buses for spare parts, as new parts for old bus models were becoming more difficult to obtain. I was also on two of the minibuses in operation, one was ok, the other one had failing brakes which made sudden stops an adventure, neither of which are planned for replacement.

See what happens when you challenge the wrong person?

GreatScott

So we find out the budget details AFTER they vote on it. That's not right. How are citizens supposed to give input? Clearly, the School Board does NOT care what the taxpayers think.

Bryan.the.Nuri

When was the last time you attended a school board meeting? or a Board of Supervisors meeting when Dr Sovine comes to present the budget?

None?

skyhighnet

Disinfectant is as much as meal programs?

Speduk8r

I’m sure it is. You would be amazed at how many things are touched throughout the day. Even though students have individual bins and baggies or containers, teachers are required to disinfectant all the time.

Roy Haines

I am very worried that soon the child will go back to school. During the pandemic and remote training, I was very nervous. I even had to see a therapist https://trustsession.com/I found them on the advice of a friend, she went through several consultations there and was satisfied with the result. I hope I don't have to endure such stress with my studies anymore.

Bryan.the.Nuri

huh?

Bernie Mac

It is painful for me to say this, but Bryan has finally said something to which I agree.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.