How is the covid-19 pandemic affecting local school district budgets?

Remote learning is a less expensive proposition for the Parma schools than having students return to district buildings.

How is the covid-19 pandemic affecting local school district budgets?

PARMA, Ohio (WOIO) - There is a variety of back-to-school plans throughout Northeast Ohio, including some districts who have gone to a fully remote learning model, others have settled on using a combination, and still other districts are bringing students back in the building.

In Parma, Charlie Smialek, the district superintendent, has made the decision to start the year utilizing remote learning, and that will help the district’s bottom line.

“There are some savings to our overall general fund; however, this is certainly not a financial decision this is specifically a decision based on the health and safety of our students and staff,” Smialek said.

The cost savings of going remote are not difficult to pick out, and include closed school buildings, buses that are not running and there are savings on the personnel side as well.

The Parma schools have had well documented financial issues, but they have improved to the point where the Ohio State Board of Education just removed the district from a fiscal caution list.

“We’ve been able to make some difficult financial decisions and some re-allocations to make sure our resources are spent where the students are,” Smialek said.

There have been expenses during an uncertain summer as the district had to prepare, and spend to be ready for a potential return of students, but fortunately, according to Smialek, funding from the federal CARES Act covered those costs.

“We’re at approximately a million dollars in supplies, PPE, desks that replaced tables to make sure we can socially distance,” he said.

So finances, inherently, are always going to be a priority they just can’t, certainly not now, be the top priority.

“Health and safety is a priority right now, certainly instruction is a close second to that,” Smialek said.

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