The COST OF COVID!
By: Kathy Knight Burns, Superintendent of Schools
September 16, 2020
On March 13th, teaching and learning changed – Not only in Nassau County, but throughout the state and the country. COVID 19 created the need for things to be done differently! Just a few days later, we learned we would not be returning to school for the remainder of the year. Teachers, students, and families adjusted, and we were able to close out the school year without the loss of positions or salaries. Then we began planning for 20-21. This once again required new safety protocols, learning options and changes.
The COST OF COVID has been high. One of the most significant impacts has been the reduced number of students currently enrolled. Below is additional information concerning enrollment and actions taken.
In the spring of each year school districts are required to provide the State with projected student enrollment for the coming year. The Department of Education funds districts based on full-time equivalent students. Each student is funded at about $7775. Funding for students is not provided in full up front. Instead, funding is distributed throughout the year and adjusted based on actual student enrollment. Nassau County’s projected enrollment for 20-21 was 12,620 students, an increase of 300 students.
Throughout the summer, teachers were hired, and plans were made for the August return to school. At the same time, the district was working through the budget process. On August 24th, the new school year began. Attendance totals were reported daily for the first 2 weeks of school to determine actual enrollment. Enrollment totals included both brick and mortar students and those learning online. On September 4th, the total enrollment reflected about 1000 less students than projected. Unfortunately, the decreased enrollment represents reduced funding of close to $8M.
Reduced enrollment and funding required us to look closely at our budget as we prepared for the days ahead. The Governor has stated that districts would not see a reduction in funding in October, but there has been no indication that funding would be maintained for our February calculation. If we waited until February to make adjustments the impact would be greater. The declining enrollment numbers required us to adjust teacher allocations in schools, reduce department budgets, and Institute a hiring freeze.
In the Nassau County School District, we’ve invested in people. Our people are what make the difference and the return on our investment has been great – “A” rated schools and students who are achieving. As we progress through this year, the impact of COVID will burden our families and financial resources. However, we will continue to strive for excellence and ensure the success of students and support for our employees and families.