Image courtesy of the Petersburg School District

Petersburg School District will be giving back about $135,000 to the borough. The money is Cares Act funding that has not been used for COVID this fall like the school district expected. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:

Back in August the Petersburg School District asked for and received $778,000 from the borough’s Cares Act pool of money. That’s federal aid money for coronavirus relief.

“These funds have certainly been beneficial to help us mitigate this pandemic and provide a robust educational experience for our students in this community,” Morrison said.

Karen Morrison is the district’s finance director. She was speaking to the school board at their meeting November 10th. She says the school district used $642,000 of the Cares Act money but they didn’t need $135,000. Or at least, they can’t spend the money by the deadline.

“These funds do expire December 31, 2020,” said Morrison.

The school district spent most of the money on extra staff for the school year. It helped pay for the salaries of six additional teachers the district hired to create smaller class sizes. The district also hired two additional custodians, two food service staff members, and a part-time technology support staff person.

But the district couldn’t spend all of the money by deadline. Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter couldn’t hire some staff by the end of the year.

“We were not able to fill everything so there was a little overage there,” said Kludt-Painter.

Other Cares Act money was spent on a long list of extra supplies. That included teaching materials for the six new classrooms, single desks for all students, Plexiglass for office areas, PPE, extra cleaning supplies as well as technology for distance learning.   

But Kludt-Painter says some COVID related materials are too backlogged and can’t get to remote Alaska in time.

“We’re still waiting on some of the antibacterial pods that go into the hand sanitizers that we actually ordered in May,” said Kludt-Painter.

Most of the district’s leftover money however –$75,000—had been planned for transporting kids on buses. But Kludt-Painter says it didn’t need to be used.

“We’ve been able to work schedules around just working with Stikine Services and our fabulous bus drivers and their scheduling and their flexibility,” Kludt-Painter said. “And then being pretty diligent about trying to work with the numbers of kids on the buses, family pods kind of sitting in the same seats, and working with some schedules there.”

It will be up to the borough assembly as to how the extra Cares Act funds from the district will be used before the end of the year. The borough still has $220,000 in other Cares Act money that has yet to be allocated as well.

The Petersburg School District is currently running in a green status, meaning that students go to school in-person on campus five days a week.