WINCHESTER — Frederick County Public Schools Finance Director Patty Camery told the School Board on Tuesday night during its business meeting that the division could lose $2,056,000 in state funding this fiscal year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It could also save $1,057,000 from schools being closed since mid-March over virus concerns.
But the numbers are subject to change.
“I have to tell you right off that I don’t particularly like giving this report ... because things are so uncertain in this time and place,” Camery said. “If things were more settled, this report would not be a problem at all.”
Of the $2,056,000 in possible lost state revenue, Camery said $1,756,000 would be from state lottery funds and $300,000 from states sales tax, both of which have been hit hard by the pandemic. She said it’s possible the lost state lottery money could be split between this fiscal year and FY21.
Camery added that the closure of schools since mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus could save the school division about $450,000 in utility bills, $260,000 in substitute teacher pay, $200,000 for fuel, $125,000 for temporary part-time wages and $22,000 in overtime pay.
Camery also said the division expects to receive up to an estimated $1.1 million in federal stimulus aid as a result of COVID-19. But she noted the division must reach out to non-public schools in the area and ask if they want a portion of that funding as well.
What remains unknown is if there will be more costs to the division in FY20 and FY21 stemming from the coronavirus.
“What’s happened is when people said, ‘Well, you should have savings in fuel because your buses aren’t running.’ That is true, but what’s happened is our expenditures have just shifted, so what was once things we paid for now, things we never expected to pay for, we’re having to pay for,” Camery said. “As the education of our students has changed, so have those expenditures to match that change.”
Some of these unanticipated expenditures could include purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional cleaning supplies. The division may also have to cover the cost of more than $200,000 in unemployment filings. There’s also the possibility the division may need to replace some laptops and textbooks that aren’t returned by high school seniors or students who move out of the county. Or equipment could fail after sitting idle during the closure. And there could be additional costs if more licenses are needed to purchase longer access for online learning programs in the fall or beyond, should the coronavirus continue to keep students out of school.
The board did not take any action on Camery’s report.
Attending the board’s regular business meeting at the division’s administration building on Tuesday night included Frederick Superintendent David Sovine, School Board Chairman Jay Foreman, Vice Chairman Michael Lake and members Brandon Monk, Brian Hester, Bradley Comstock, Shontyá Washington and Frank Wright. The meeting was broadcast online to Facebook Live.