Tuesday, June 30, 2020

District 11 lands $15.5 million in CARES Act money, gives $1 million to charter schools

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 3:09 PM

click to enlarge Colorado Springs School District 11 received $15.5 million in federal money to fund needs due to the coronavirus pandemic. - PAM ZUBECK / FILE PHOTO
  • Pam Zubeck / file photo
  • Colorado Springs School District 11 received $15.5 million in federal money to fund needs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Of the $500 million allotted to school districts in Colorado through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, roughly $60.5 million went to the nine major school districts in the Pikes Peak region.

Here's those allocations:

Harrison 2: $8,312,348
Widefield 3: $4,773,916
Fountain 8: $4,439,961
Colorado Springs 11: $15,543,743
Cheyenne Mountain 12: $2,090,333
Manitou Springs 14: $704,733
Academy 20: $10,141,025
Lewis Palmer 38: $2,576,488
District 49: $12,245,771

Colorado Springs District 11 received the largest amount, from which it allocated nearly $1 million to its six charter schools, which was required by the CARES Act.

"They’re part of our pupil count," says D-11 chief financial officer and deputy superintendent Glenn Gustafson. "We’re just a flow-through mechanism."

See below for a complete list of school districts and CARES Act allocations, as well as the distribution by D-11 to its charter schools in column M.
Regarding the $15.5 million from the CARES Act, Gustafson called it "gigantic."

"We’re losing interest income, specific ownership tax on vehicles, facility rental fees. It’s the difference between bad and devastating," he says. "Without this funding we would have had to slash and burn our budget."

As it is, D-11 has cut up to $8 million from the coming year's budget, less than it otherwise would have, thanks to the CARES Act money and reliance upon the district's reserve fund.

District officials hope those sources will "buy us time" until the economy recovers, he says.

Among the district's expenditures with CARES Act money: $5 million for laptops and Chrome books for kids to accommodate distance learning as well as classroom instruction. Districts are not allowed to use the relief money to backfill losses to their regular budgets due to the pandemic, he says.

The more controversial allocation due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is the ESSER program, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Congress set aside about $13.2 billion of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the CARES Act for ESSER. The ESSER grants are to be used to provide relief to schools, including charter schools, to address the impact of COVID-19.

"People were surprised we had to share the ESSER money with the private schools," Gustafson tells the Indy, adding the district has been told it will get $6 million but hasn't received it yet.

Charter schools and private schools, including those run by churches, are supposed to get a portion of the money.

"We’re still working through the logistics of that formula," Gustafson says. "All this is just in process. We haven’t determined the form of distribution but it will be equitable." A couple of private schools in D-11 have declined the money, which carries a set of federal rules that must be followed, he says.

District 20, which has the largest student enrollment of any Pikes Peak region district, received a total of $10.1 million, of which $1,338,231 went to The Classical Academy charter school (TCA) and $216,571 went to New Summit Charter Academy charter school (NSCA).

As for ESSER money, D-20 received a total of $861,970, of which TCA received $113,749 and NSCA, $18,408.

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