NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – A decision to go virtual and keep its kids home for the first marking period could end up costing one of the state’s largest school districts millions of dollars.
New Haven’s COVID response team was actually at Hillhouse High School on Wednesday going over the ventilation system, the signage, and the plexiglass checking it over for when it reopens in November.
New Haven’s Board of Education decided last month it would start the first ten weeks remotely. While there are some cost savings for the district, there are also financial implications.
The possibility was brought up earlier this week during New Haven’s Board of Education meeting that it could lose more than $2 million.
"We're pushing behind he scenes. Everyone knows I'm not a loud person, but doing the best I can, reaching out to people of influence that I'm familiar with and that's what we continue to do," said Dr. Iline Tracey, New Haven Superintendent.
No, based off the district’s decision to start the school year off with remote learning for the first marking period, it’s saving money by not having to hire part-time staff, not having utilities on, and also cuts in hours for custodial crews.
But there are costs. There’s drops in magnet school enrollment and lower food service revenue.
By starting the year off remotely, the district could lose out on a portion of the second of COVID funding for transportation.
Governor Ned Lamont has a pot of more than $5 million he can use at his discretion to help school districts operate during the pandemic, but the thought it by not physically being in school or needing to bus kids, those needs change.
During his Monday coronavirus update, Lamont specifically mentioned New Haven, encouraging the district to rethink its decision to go the distanced learning route for the first 10 weeks of school.
"Very, very few are just distance learning. Come on New Haven, I think you ought to take a look. You have very low infection rates and these kids ought to have a chance, an option to go to school. Obviously, nothing is mandatory," Lamont said.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, who also sits on the Board of Education, says many of the costs the district is dealing with as it gets set to reopen, are not going away.
“The governor has reached out to say what do we need to do to help you get back to school. I have a call into the commissioner of education, the Department of Education as well. My hope is that we can work together to make sure we have adequate funding resources to help us open up,” Elicker said.
The estate has been putting pressure on New Haven to get their kids back into the classroom, including Lamont even calling them out earlier this week.
"Originally, New Haven was set to receive over five million dollars, but the state is saying we're reducing that amount of money. In some ways, the state is saying, well if you're not back in school, you don't need to fund these things, but a lot of these things are fixed costs which actually help us get back to school, like infrastructure improvement. That's vital to keeping our community safe," Elicker said.