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Columbia Public Schools

Columbia Public Schools official provides COVID-19 budget update


Columbia Public Schools' finance head provided an update to the school board finance committee Wednesday on how COVID-19 has affected revenue and spending.

CFO Heather McArthur gave an update at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on year-to-date revenue and expenditures compared to the budget adopted this summer.

McArthur said declines in state revenue sources like casino closures this spring led to CPS not getting money it had planned on having.

CPS State Foundation Formula Revenues chart

“When the casinos were closed last spring,” McArthur said. “Those revenues then didn't materialize to be able to distribute out the school district so the amount that we are originally budgeting to receive and those categories then we did not receive that and then May and June when those funding or that was distributed to schools.”

The districts spent over 3 million dollars on items needed for COVID-19 so far this year.

CPS COVID-19 Spending chart

The district spent the most on technology devices for students, like iPad and laptops. CPS also spent a large portion on providing hot spots so students and staff could use their devices for virtual learning at home.

Other spending consisted of staff salaries, PPE for staff and students and extra sanitation measures.

Although CPS is able to be reimbursed through many different federal revenues like CARES Act funding where the district projects 2.5 million dollars in that funding for this year.

CPS federal revenues chart

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is also providing the districts with other grants for transportation and delivering meals to students.

“Any additional revenue that we have in our local revenues and our federal revenues will just offset them that deficit in our state revenues,” said McArthur.

The board also discussed more ways to save money this school year.

McArthur said some additional savings could come from not filling some available positions the district offers, as the district is currently in a virtual environment.

“80% of our expenditures are based on personnel salary and benefits," McArthur said. "So if some of the positions aren't filled and that's gonna be an area of savings also some of our professional development and travel.”

The finance committee did speak about technology services and what the district should prepare for moving forward with virtual learning and transitioning to a hybrid learning method.

Another concern was once CPS switches to its hybrid learning method, keeping those employees who had virtual positions still have meaningful work.

“So we've been working really closely with our human resources department,” McArthur said. “To make sure all those non certified and hourly folks have work to do and to make sure they're meeting the needs and the support that our students need.

CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said the meeting will give committee members the opportunity to review the presentation and to ask questions before McArthur addresses the full school board on Monday.

The school board in June approved a budget that relies on $17 million in spending from reserves in anticipation of mounting losses attributed in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the deficit in revenue compared to expenditure is from costs associated with opening John Warner Middle School this year.

CPS students started school Tuesday in an online-only format because of surging COVID-19 cases in Boone County. The middle school is yet to welcome students inside but students are attending the school online.

Gov. Mike Parson has already withheld $123 million from K-12 education for the budget year that began July 1. That's on top of money withheld from the budget for the last fiscal year.

Columbia / Columbia Video / Coronavirus / Education / K-12 education / News / Top Stories / Video
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Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.


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