Covid related grant could offset Southwick school contribution

SOUTHWICK – The town could get some relief from the increase in its required local contribution to the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional Schools.

Superintendent Jennifer Willard and Director of Finance and Operations Stephen Presnal said the district received approximately $909,000 from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II), a federal grant issued under the CARES Act.

Presnal said in addition to using the funds for COVID-19 related expenses, it can be applied to required local contributions for communities in regional school districts.

A screenshot of a slide showing potential use of a grant to offset Southwick’s required local contribution to the regional school district. (SCREENSHOT)

Willard and Presnal presented the option to the Southwick Select Board March 8, noting it could cover the $86,357 increase in Southwick’s required local contribution.

Presnal said there was no need to use the ESSER II grant in Granville and Tolland because those towns “are seeing decreases in their RLCs.”

The regional school committee last week heard the first draft of the FY22 district budget and a presentation is scheduled for the March 16 committee meeting. Presnal said the budget continues to be looked at and is based on Gov. Charlie Baker’s initial budget projections. Presnal and Willard both said several times Monday that it could change at any time before the public hearing March 31, however they believe the required local contribution will remain the same, which is $9,164,693 without applying ESSER II funds. With the funds the contribution for F 22 is $9,078,342.

Presnal and Willard said they have two years to use the ESSER II funds and any leftover funds would be returned.

Select Board member Russell Fox asked “what would be the downside” of the funds.

Presnal said he did not think there was a “huge downside” and added that “it can be used over two years but the ability to utilize it for the RLC increase is limited to FY21-22.”

Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart asked Presnal to give the board more detailed financials for its next meeting.


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