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Preston BOE adjusts budget for pandemic needs

This is one in a series of articles to mark Sunshine Week, which is a national initiative to educate the public about the importance of open government.

KINGWOOD — On Feb. 19, the Preston County Board of Education voted unanimously to return students to a four-day-a-week instructional model, beginning Feb. 22.

Declared virtual students were allowed to continue attending school remotely with all other students attending school in-person Monday through Thursday, but remaining remote on Fridays.

Superintendent of Schools Stephen L. Wotring explained some of the effects COVID has had on the board’s budget.

The Dominion Post: How have changes made due to COVID affected the Preston County Board of Education budget?

Wotring: We have obviously had to spend more time and effort on ensuring that every classroom is equipped with hand sanitizers and other cleaning equipment. We have also had to use our custodial staff to do deep cleaning on weekends, which has resulted in overtime. The expenditures related to COVID are expenses that typically would not have been included within our budget, but adjustments are required to be made in these critical times.

TDP: What money has been spent on more thorough cleaning?

Wotring: $178,473.55 is the cost directly associated with through cleaning. This includes the cost of extra personnel time, cleaning services, custodial supplies, freight for supplies and equipment.

TDP: What money was spent on mobile hot spots? (These were put in place to help all students have internet access.)

Wotring: We have spent $21,177 on hot spots. These are 12-to-24-month contracts for the hot spot services.

TDP: Was money spent on getting more students laptops or iPads?

Wotring: Each student in Preston County now has a device. We have supplied iPads to students in grades K through 12 and laptops for students in grades 3 through 12.

TDP: Where did this money come from?

Wotring: The majority of the funding for the iPads came from ESSERF (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funding) funding, which was the federal money provided for COVID expenditures.

TDP: Are there other examples of money being spent differently than usual because of the pandemic or outbreaks of COVID in some schools?

Wotring: In the future, we will be looking at increased funding for our virtual school option, but currently, the bulk of our expenditures have remained in line with our typical spending.