Eagle Eye on Education: District leaders focused on finances during pandemic

Rebecca Jenkins
Guest columnist

Since March, the New Albany-Plain Local School District has continued to adjust and adapt to meet the academic and developmental needs of our students and families due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Although the roller coaster ride from 100% online instruction to a hybrid or virtual-learning experience to a full return to all-in, in-person mode combined with 100% virtual at-home for some students has proven challenging at times, the daily efforts and continued support of students, parents, faculty and staff demonstrate our "Eagle pride."

Rebecca Jenkins

By masking up, backing up and washing up, we are demonstrating to our students the importance our "CommUnity" places on health and well-being.

Our continued commitment to resist the mitigation fatigue we are all feeling is essential to keeping our school buildings open and our community safe.

Unfortunately, mitigation strategies, personal-protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, sanitizer and the district's curriculum platform create unexpected and necessary costs to protect the safety and welfare of everyone.

Overall, the costs of personal-protective equipment, cleaning products and an online-learning platform, increasing health-insurance premiums and continued state-aid cuts will negatively impact the five-year forecast that will be presented in late October.

To date, the district has spent well over $900,000 on COVID-19-related expenditures. Unfortunately, we likely are not finished with this required spending with the future of this virus still unknown.

Helping to offset additional COVID-19 expenditures, the district received $250,000 in federal CARES Act support that was restricted for technology, connectivity and pandemic-related expenses.

Generous donations made through the New Albany Community Foundation have resulted in more than $78,475 in funding to help support our efforts to keep our students and staff members safe during this uncertain time. Donations helped to supply student masks, hand sanitizer, safety shields for staff members and internet hotspots for students learning from home and to offset costs for electrostatic sprayers necessary to disinfect large areas, including playgrounds. We remain ever grateful for the generosity and support of our community for our safety requirements.

The school board and administration are equally committed to maximizing our resources to meet the academic and developmental needs of our students without seeking additional operating dollars from our taxpayers until absolutely necessary.

Additional financial information, including the five-year forecast, the comprehensive annual financial report, our online checkbook and other financial documents, may be found on our website at napls.us via the "Treasurer" link under the "Our District" tab.

Our school district has and will continue to be fiscally responsible, accountable and transparent with our taxpayers. Any taxpayer of our community is welcome to contact me at 614-855-2040, Superintendent Michael Sawyers or any member of the school board when you have questions about the finances of our school district.

Rebecca Jenkins is the chief financial officer and treasurer for the New Albany-Plain Local School District.