Planning is underway for how to reopen schools following guidance released by the state education department. Missing from that guidance is a plan for funding all the required changes.
“There is going to be a big cost to this," said Utica City School District School Superintendent Bruce Karam. “There’s cost to the deep cleaning. We have to buy supplies and stuff. We’re using more now than ever.”
Sanitization is just one of the mandatory regulations the state education department put forth in their reopening guidance. In Health and Safety, they also require schools to figure out how to social distance and do health screenings.
“Say in Onondaga County, some of the smaller school districts or even the bigger school districts, I don’t care what size school district you take, how are they going to create more space? How is that going to be done?” said Cornell ILR School Senior Extension Associate Lee Adler.
The dozens of requirements will likely create a financial burden. Experts say some schools might need to tap into reserve funds.
"They are often for long-term projects, or to supplement the possibility of a long-term project, or to fund something special and unique, but for regular operating districts, most districts I think, say they would rather not use those reserve funds,” said Adler.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said earlier in the year that schools could lose 20% of their state aid. Last month, many school budgets passed with cuts.
“There is a substantial cost to this pandemic. Not only with the way we’re administering instruction, but the cost of this,” said Karam.
Experts say without federal funding, reopening may have to wait.