AUGUSTA – Several schools and school districts across the state appear to have returned some of the COVID-19 aid made available to them by the Maine Department of Education, while several other schools and school districts received additional aid thanks to a reallocation of funds.
In late November, PenBayPilot.com reported that 34 midcoast schools and school districts combined are receiving a total of $ 23,360,144.66 in educational aid going to Counties of Knox, Lincoln and Waldo.
Originally, three regional educational institutions appeared on the list of award winners and no longer on the list, indicating their award amounts have been returned: Damariscotta Montessori ($ 5,153.00), Jefferson ($ 486,919.42), and Riley School (527.16 USD).
In addition, Nobleboro previously received two awards: a first round award for $ 168,001.97 and a second round award for $ 177,949.03. The latter award no longer appears in the list of allocated funds.
Seven educational institutions in the region received reallocated funds that were distributed after funds were returned by other educational institutions.
Edgecomb received $ 137,217.42 in reallocated funds, in addition to the $ 132,977.40 in round one and $ 140,861.55 in round two for a newly updated total of $ 411,056.37.
Monhegan received $ 6,243.37 in reallocated funds on top of the $ 6,610.91 received in the second round of funding for a newly updated total of $ 12,854.28.
MSAD 40 received $ 483,186.00 in reallocated funds, in addition to $ 1,615,465.22 in round one, $ 1,697,448.42 in round two, $ 2,995.99 for adult education, and $ 51,800 for day programs for a newly updated Sum of $ 3,850,895.63.
RSU 12 received $ 125,000 in reallocated funds, in addition to $ 834,625.89 in round one, $ 877,223.97 in round two, and $ 413.24 in adult education for a newly updated amount of 1,837 $ 263.10.
RSU 53 received $ 25,000 in reallocated funds, in addition to $ 557,002.36 in round one and $ 585,183.72 in round two for a newly updated total of $ 1,167,186.08.
Watershed received $ 1,510.33 in reallocated funds, in addition to the $ 1,581.47 received in round two for a newly updated sum of $ 3,091.80.
Wayfinder received $ 3,500 in reallocated funds, in addition to the $ 12,219.07 in round one and $ 12,918.60 in round two for a newly updated amount of $ 28,637.68.
The Maine Department of Education’s Safe Return to School Funding Program was established to help Maine schools ensure a safe and healthy return to face-to-face teaching for the 2020-2021 school year.
Appropriate schools and school districts had to develop three different lesson plans (remote, hybrid, and face-to-face) in order to be adequately prepared for the uncertain evolution of COVID-19.
Educational institutions are facing unprecedented and therefore not budgeted expenses and logistical hurdles, according to a DOE memo.
As such, education allowances can cover expenses such as:
• Changes to transportation and facilities to enable social distancing and to comply with health and safety guidelines
• Increased need for cleaning agents
• Additional classroom and hand washing stations
• Contracted services to meet additional custody needs, tutoring, intervention services, grant administration and medical staff
• Increased need for replacement, technology, connectivity, student learning assessments, COVID-19 communications, student resources, and signage
• Professional development for educators and staff who need to be fluent in hybrid and distance learning models to accommodate all students
These funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund have “provided immediate and critical funding for the time-sensitive procurement of specific resources that enabled eligible entities to plan and implement thoughtful strategies and support to ensure the safe and timely reopening of Maine schools,” reads a letter from the Maine Department of Education.
The funds allocated for each educational institution must be used when the necessary expenses have been incurred due to COVID-19. not included in the budget last approved on March 27; and were created between March 1st and December 30th.
In order to promote both efficiency and equity, the Ministry of Education, according to the letter, has developed a funding distribution formula that is based on the number of students and is adjusted to a variety of factors (e.g. special education, English learners and number of homeless students, small / rural) school adaptation etc.).
Educational institutions could also receive funding for their adult education programs and day programs for school-age children.
For the latter, districts or schools used day program funds either to establish their own programs or to work with local community organizations such as a local YMCA, boys and girls club, or parks and recreation department to mentor students in the area.