by Mike Knaak
The third round of federal COIVD-19 relief money will boost the Sartell-St. Stephen school district’s budget for the 2021-22 school year.
The district received $794,506 in the most recent round of federal support, Joe Prom, director of Business Services, told the school board at its April 19 meeting.
With the money, the district will be able to maintain current staffing levels and add mental health and academic intervention positions, Prom said.
Before the latest round of federal money, the district received about $1.6 million COVID relief in federal funds. Some of this federal funding was pass-through received through the state and county. That money was used for cleaning, technology, staff development, staff time and transportation while the district moved between different learning models. The district’s total budget is about $40 million.
How much money school districts receive is based on Title I programs with higher poverty-rate schools getting more money. For example, in the latest round, Sauk-Rapids-Rice, a district about the same size as Sartell-St. Stephen, was allocated $3,573,862. The St. Cloud district, which has a bit more than twice as many students, was allocated $31,400,189.
The Legislature continues to debate school funding with bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate, more than about $600 million apart. The House bill, which provides more funding, includes a 2 percent increase in the general funding formula. The Senate bill keeps the funding formula flat and includes $60 million in one-time aid. The two versions have been assigned to a conference committee. The new focus on racial justice and policing following the killing of Daunte Wright may delay legislators acting soon on education funding.
A contract settlement was approved by the board for the district’s paraprofessionals, which includes about 100 staff. The total package-cost increase is 4.5 percent per year. The paraprofessional settlement compares with contracts reached with the district’s other unions. The clerical unit’s 2020-23 contract costs 4.24 percent per year and the teachers’ 2019-21 contract costs 4.33 percent per year.
The new contract adds an average of 1 percent per year to the salary schedule and a step movement retroactive to July 1, 2020.