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East County Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2020 2 months ago

School Board of Manatee County approves funding for COVID-19 measures

Board wants to make sure students have masks, hotspots and Chromebooks
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

The School Board of Manatee County made several funding decisions in regards to COVID-19 during its meeting Tuesday. 

In the board's "consent agenda," the board unanimously approved $325,000 for reusable masks, $100,000 to provide hotspots for 205 students in sixth through eighth grade at Palm View K-8 School and $200,000 for hotspots that will be purchased on an as-needed basis during the 2020-2021 school year. 

The board unanimously approved a four-year lease for 12,000 HP Chromebooks for students. The district will make annual payments of $973,153 for four years. At the end of the lease term, the district can purchase the computers for $1. The total for the four-year lease is $3,892,614.

"We needed to make sure that all of our schools were replenished with devices, but also we needed to make sure we had enough devices that if we were having to close down schools for any reason in the fall, each child could take a computer and have internet access to continue their learning," said Cynthia Saunders, superintendent of the School District of Manatee County.

The district distributed more than 10,000 laptops in March when the district transitioned to e-learning.  

The board unanimously approved Resolution 2020-001, which allows the board to use $2.4 million the state gave the district to "offset unanticipated COVID-19 expenditures and possible future state funding reductions."

Florida statute gives the school board authority to spend funds allocated to the district from funds received for student transportation, safe schools, supplemental academic instruction, research based reading instruction and instructional materials.

The district will put $1,790,846 in "instructional materials funds," $31,587 in "Florida digital classroom funds" and $614,372 in "class-size reduction funds" toward COVID-19 expenses.

The district has already spent $1.2 million in the past three months. Saunders said the district foresees spending $4.7 million to ensure schools have the proper safety measures in place and supplies needed to keep students and employees safe next school year.


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