RCAS School Board passes upcoming budget

School board passed 2020-21 budget unanimously Monday night
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 6:50 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -Like the rest of the nation, COVID-19 has put a wrench in Rapid City Area Schools budgeting plans.

But the school board approved a new budget Monday night unanimously. Rapid City Area School (RCAS) district says they need an extra $1.6 million to add to their federal and state aid for this upcoming school year.

In Monday night’s presentation, RCAS Director of Business and Support Services Coy Sasse said state aid makes up about 40 percent of the school district’s revenue.

CARES funding provides $4.5 million to RCAS

CARES funding provides $4.5 million to the school district which Sasse broke down:

  • $413,000 was shared with the district’s nonpublic schools, per federal guidelines
  • $3 million for the district’s one-to-one computer initiative, which assures each student has a laptop for online and remote learning
  • $165,000 for Canvas licensing, which allows students to access their courses, grades, assignments and discussions using a mobile device or laptop
  • $40,000 for Google Drive certification
  • $70,000 for a nurse coordinator
  • $135,000 for personal protective equipment
  • $20,000 for summer school credit recovery
  • $111,000 for computer cases
  • $530,000 for related expenses.

The extra $1.6 million the school district needs Sasse explained would be needed for these costs:

  • $450,000 for building modifications, like nurse stations and sick/well areas
  • $1.3 million for remote learning technology
  • $70,000 for additional PPE needs
  • $330,000 for nursing support.

But the biggest expense for the district is payroll. Sasse said 90 percent goes to salaries and benefits for teachers, administrators, food service workers and more.

“At the time of the onset of all of this there was a really large degree of support for keeping people employed, keeping paychecks running and continuing to support the economy and obviously our local economy throughout that,” Sasse said.

Homeschooled students won’t save money, necessarily

Sasse said they still have no plans to cut staff but negotiations have not been made yet. Some workers may not return this school year and others may want a raise if they return.

Some parents may not enroll their students this year in school. Matt Stephens, one of the board members, said it could be a difference of 5 percent when it comes to enrollment.

Sasse said fewer students doesn’t mean more savings.

“You could see a 300 student reduction but it would be spread amongst all grade levels, so it’s unlikely that you can go, ‘OK, we can remove a teacher here or we can remove this teacher to another classroom,‘” Sasse said.

Savings from last school year are still being calculated

What about the money saved last school year when Governor Kristi Noem closed schools because of the pandemic?

Sasse said the district could be saving about $350,000 to $500,000 from those months but the final numbers won’t be in until next month.

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