Schools need to talk with county officials about use of COVID funds

School district officials should be working with their local county officials to access federal COVID-19 funds to help pay for the additional costs to educate students caused by the pandemic.

That’s the advice of Monica Murnan, Director of Student Support Services with the Greenbush education service center, which is assisting counties in dealing with the state Office of Recovery, which recommends allocation of those federal funds.

Murnan spoke to about 50 Kansas education leaders during KASB’s Advocacy Update via zoom on Friday. Here is a link to a video of the event.

Through the CARES Act federal stimulus package, states received funds that they have passed down to county governments to disperse at the local level. Kansas’ share to the counties is $1.25 billion.

About a third of that amount has already been allocated but the state and counties are working on dispersing the remaining amount.

Many counties have shared some of those funds with local school districts, but Murnan said school officials must be in contact with counties to make their case for additional funding.

School officials, she said, are important sources of information about the additional community costs that have come with dealing with the coronavirus disease. “You know where your kids are. You know what families’ needs are,” she said.

Schools should be discussing with county officials the costs to provide internet connectivity to students, additional training for teachers, the needs of families driven to unemployment and increased mental health and childcare needs.

Most counties are facing a deadline of Aug. 15 to submit plans to the state on how the funds will be used, Murnan noted, so school districts should act quickly.

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