301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

2.14.21 – FARMINGTON

The School District will be able to receive almost $746,000 from the federal covid-19 relief package approved by Congress in December, according to Jon Laffoon, superintendent of schools.

Laffoon said the administration already has asked building principals and staff for feedback on ways to spend the money.

The money is part of a $900 billion federal package that provides almost $82 billion for general education and high education across the country. The state of Arkansas is to receive $558 million for school districts in the state from the legislation, called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

Similar to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security passed by Congress in March, the fund has eligible expenses that include food security, technology and systemic procedures. The new legislation also has facilities as an eligible cost for projects that would provide a safer environment for students and staff, such as improvements in air quality.

Laffoon said new Chromebooks for students and possibly for staff and maintenance needs, such as wipes, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray, are some purchases the district would make using the fund’s money.

The board approved 10 days of paid covid emergency leave at its January meeting, and the new federal money can be used for these costs, Laffoon said. School employees can use up to 10 days of covid leave if they have to miss school because of qualified covid-related reasons. The covid leave also can be used if an employee’s dependent has received a quarantine or isolation order.

For the first semester, Laffoon said the district spent $34,000 for covid leave, not including costs to pay for substitute teachers. He said the district is budgeting $75,000-$100,000 for covid emergency leave for the second semester. The district’s new covid leave policy expires June 30, 2021.ADVERTISING

The district also has HVAC projects that could be paid for through the new federal money, Laffoon said.

Farmington received $200,000 from the CARES Act at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year and spent the money on personal protection equipment, maintenance and technology. Laffoon said it didn’t take long before the $200,000 was gone.

Lynn Kutter may be reached by email at lkutter@nwadg.com.