SMMUSD will be down slightly due to the cost of the pandemic. Courtesy photo.

COVID-related expenses will decrease SMMUSD coffers by $718,160 despite an increase in revenue from the State.

The SMMUSD Board approved a 45 day budget revision for the 2020 to 2021 school year last week which includes an additional $1,311,652 for COVID-related expenses.

The budget also includes a $593,491 revenue increase resulting from the reversal of the Governor’s proposed 10% reduction in the Cost of Living Adjustment to the state’s Local Control Funding Formula for public schools. However, the increased COVID spending will offset the revenue increase leaving the District’s fund balance lower than the previous budget.

In order to prepare teachers for the upcoming semester of distance learning, two professional development days were added to the school year on Aug. 20 and 21, which will cost the district $811,652. An additional $500,000 has been added to the budget to account for other COVID-related expenses.

In order to continue purchasing the necessary supplies and services to protect students and staff from the spread of COVID-19, the board renewed resolution No.20-02, which declares an emergency and allows the district to enter contracts without a competitive solicitation for bids.

“At this point we have used this authorization to make purchases of $365,000,” said Carey Upton, the Chief Operations Officer of SMMUSD. “Of that $104,000 was for personal protective equipment; $241,000 was for facilities that mostly were portable sinks, but also includes signage and plexiglass screens; and $20,000 to support our consultants who are helping with all of our documentation.”

While students may not be on campus at the moment, personal protective equipment is essential for maintenance, custodial, food services, and health office staff members. So far the District has used the emergency authorization to buy surgical masks, face masks, gloves, face shields, goggles, isolation gowns, shoe covers, and infrared thermometers for these essential workers.

Other expenses such as plexiglass dividers, portable sinks, and safety program consultants are intended to prepare schools for future reopenings in line with the LA Department of Public Health protocols.

Superintendent Ben Drati mentioned that as part of COVID-related expenses, the District was looking into ways to provide childcare for teachers during school hours, but that this funding will need to wait for government authorization. “We think the state is now considering teachers and staff’s children as essential workers, and may be giving the ability to expand childcare practices to support the staff, but we are still in the process of putting those pieces in place,” said Dr. Drati.

Although many in person services are no longer available at schools, the updated budget does not reflect any reduced expenses for school programs. There are several smaller decreases to the District’s revenue from non-COVID-related expenses.

The updated budget requires the District to transfer an additional $249,000 of property taxes to the New West Charter school, which is in the Pico neighborhood. It also predicts a $129,895 reduction in revenue from the Measure R Parcel Tax and a $93,173 reduction in revenue from the Joint Use Agreement for the City of Malibu.

clara@smdp.com