SCARBOROUGH — Kate Bolton, business manager for Scarborough Public Schools, told the Board of Education on Sept. 3 how the district plans to use supplemental $2.1 million that the state has allocated through a relief fund.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund, or CRF, is a federal grant through the CARES Act, Bolton said. Money was sent to the State of Maine and the state has spent the past year figuring out where to distribute the funds.

The allocations to school districts is based on enrollment and student population, she said. These funds do come with caveats, however.

“They are specifically for opening school under pandemic conditions,” Bolton said. “Because of that they’re earmarked for costs that are not in our budget, that were directly caused by the COVID-19 emergency, and that we have no other funds for. They can’t be applied toward reimbursement for lost revenue, and they can’t supplant previously budgeted expenses. There’s also a very short time frame on this.”

Funds need to be used by Dec. 30, she said. The district has until Sept. 30 to finalize expenses.

“Because of the limited time frame we’re not allowed to spend a penny for anything that occurs after Dec. 30, any service provided, any hours worked, which means we have to be really careful on how we allocate the funds, so we really focused on upfront expenses, equipment wherever possible, materials wherever possible,” Bolton said. “And we know that when Jan. 1 rolls around, we may have some of these same expenditures, but those will have to be supported in our regular budget. Luckily, we do have a little bit of what we’ve been calling ‘COVID money’ in our budget as well.”

Scarborough Schools received approval from the Department of Education after submitting an application on Aug. 31, Bolton said. The expenditure areas approved include transportation, facility modification, materials and supplies, nutrition services, additional staff hours, professional development, and technology.

The district is looking into getting lightly used, low-mile passenger vans, Bolton said. These will do well in having flexibility to transport fewer kids in a smaller space, and drivers do not need a bus driver’s license to operate them.

Health clinic spaces will also be expanded, she said.

“We have room for a well clinic and room for a potential infection clinic,” Bolton said. “We’ve had some consultants work on our HVAC system to make sure we have everything in place for safety and air quality control. We’re working on some outdoor break areas with some tents.”

Nutrition services will be able to serve kids through remote ordering and touchless payments, she said. The CRF will fund materials to serve and transport food.

“They’re packaging everything as single serving,” Bolton said. “They’re actually using heated carts and cooled carts to be able to transport food, and a lot of that material will come to us through this grant.”

The district has put money toward supporting training and staff work to plan to create new systems and protocols, she said.

“It has to be a supplement to our budget, so it’s not the normal things we do but over and above that,” Bolton said. “Paying supplemental substitutes to come in to help us with our staffing resources and extra staff perhaps on transportation and facilities.”

The biggest unclear piece is staffing because of the costs, Bolton said.

“I would love it if we had another $2 million in the second half of the year,” she said. “I don’t think this is going to happen so that’s why we’re front loading the purchase of equipment that will last us all year.”

The total $2.1 million amount was budgeted and approved in the grant application, Bolton said.

“The good news is that the DOE really wants us to succeed with this,” she said. “They really want to be super supportive of the school districts.”

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