Schools face $1 billion in new costs before safely reopening in the fall, says Tri-County Alliance


Posted by The Huron Hub | June 24, 2020

The Tri-County Alliance for Public Education (TCA) shared cost projections and considerations with Governor Whitmer and legislative leaders that outline requirements and regulations schools will likely need to adhere to in order to reopen safely in the fall. The expected requirements, based on preliminary guidance from federal and local health departments, will add more than $1 billion in new costs for school districts statewide for the upcoming school year. Without additional support, this equates to $665 per-pupil that would be diverted from students’ education.

“We are hearing loud and clear from parents that they want their kids back in the classrooms this fall, and that they will, understandably, demand schools meet or exceed health and safety guidelines in order to do so,” said Mark Greathead, Superintendent of Woodhaven-Brownstown Schools and TCA President. “Schools, as it stands, are not prepared to take on new costs related to COVID-19 and are in critical need of immediate funding from the state and federal government.”

In order to implement safe reopening plans while adhering to guidelines from the CDC, state and local health departments, TCA estimates schools must plan to take on the following additional health and safety costs:

  • Personal Protective Equipment
    • Masks: Recommend two per day for every student and staff
      • $14 million – $17 million per month for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb
      • $35 million – $47 million per month statewide
    • Gloves: Recommend 100 disposable gloves available daily per school
      • $4 million – $8 million per month statewide
    • Thermometers:
      • $2.2 million for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb
      • $6.3 million statewide
    • Cleaning and Sanitization Supplies:
      • $9 million per month for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb
      • $25 million statewide
  • Online Connectivity: Equity periods of remote learning means ensuring students are on a level playing field by providing every student with a device on connectivity to keep on pace with peers
    • $125 million – $200 million statewide
  • Continued food distribution if students are not in school all day, every day
    • $24.5 million for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb
    • $67.8 million statewide

Beyond resources and funding, TCA urged the Governor and legislative leaders to allow for flexibility in operations. The student evaluations, requirements and regulations schools traditionally adhere to—such as the third grade reading law, teacher evaluations and how per-pupil counts will be determined—will  likely not reflect how schools will deliver services this upcoming year and will, more than likely, take time and resources away from schools when they are already struggling to meet requirements and costs related to COVID-19. Yesterday, Georgia became the first state to seek federal approval from the U.S. Education Department to waive standardize testing for the 2020-2021 school year. TCA encourages Michigan’s Governor and legislative leaders to make that same request.

“It is our recommendation that certain student and teacher evaluations and related requirements for the upcoming year be suspended or waived in order for schools to focus their efforts on serving students in the manner that best fits the needs of their local communities,” Greathead said. “We also continue to call on Congress to provide additional stimulus dollars and greater flexibility in the funds already provided.”

View the full list of considerations and cost projections for fall 2020 here.

The Tri-County Alliance for Public Education is a coalition of education leaders “committed to fighting for strong K-12 schools across Michigan,” according to the alliance. Comprised of Superintendents from every district in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, they are collectively responsible for educating over 500,000 students.

Article source: The Tri-County Alliance for Public Education


 

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