Massena Central School District Plans To Shift From Using Federal Stimulus Funds | Education
MASSENA — The Massena Central School District plans to transition from using the federal stimulus money it received when those awards begin to expire starting next year.
The district received $3.9 million in supplemental appropriation funding for coronavirus response and relief, and that grant ends in September 2023. The district also received $8.7 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, which expires in September 2024.
Superintendent Patrick H. Brady reminded school board members Monday night that they were presented with a plan last June for how the district intended to use federal stimulus funds.
“It was the second and third stimulus funds all together. Three different kits were provided to districts. We know that these federal funds are going to start decreasing starting in September 2023 and then the following year, 2024,” he said.
Mr Brady said commercial manager Nickolas Brouillette had drafted a memo to ensure “that at the end of this you don’t face a fiscal cliff” that could impact the district and its programs.
“Each bullet describes a different strategy or approach the District is actively taking to ensure these funds outlast the short window in which they are due to expire. The Superintendent, the Finance Committee and I as Commercial Director have worked diligently to make the most of these funds, with long term sustainability being a top priority as we have found that funding can be a feast or a famine in our business,” said Mr. dit Brouillette.
He said the district had approved a number of one-time expenses such as furniture upgrades and the purchase of additional vehicles.
“We put existing staff into these grants to allow us to increase the surplus in the budget each year, to allow us to put that money in reserves, to put it in our unrestricted fund balance, which is a pot very flexible money that we have access to,” he said.
“We also added the Priority Additions which Pat (Brady) and I worked closely with all the admins on. They have done a lot of work to prepare and provide backup to requests. Pat and I review them, bring them to the finance committee, and ultimately they come to the board for approval,” Brouillette said.
He said that throughout the process they were able to keep the tax levy at 0%.
“We were able to give the money back to our local residents by not raising taxes every year. We have increased our reserves and the balance of our funds that we have access to, which we can use for many years to come. That way it doesn’t expire within two years,” he said.
Additionally, he said, they constructed the budget to include the salaries of everyone who is paid from federal funds. Additional staff and existing staff who have been moved from the general fund to federal grants can easily be returned to the general fund, he said, noting that they also generate a surplus in the general budget.
“The district has included enough money in next year’s budget to include those salaries, so essentially the general fund budget could absorb those salaries under the current structure. This is done to avoid a potential “fiscal cliff” or a significant increase in the balance of restricted funds when federal funds run out,” Brouillette said.
He also discussed the current $49.6 million capital project.
“We used $1 million of budgeted funds to help reduce the debt resulting from this project. The money we put into the capital fund now will create income over the next 15 years. We receive aid based on full cost and only fund what we need, so we will receive more aid than debt we pay,” he said.
Mr. Brouillette said that instead of keeping the balance of unrestricted funds at 4%, they have kept it around 10% in recent years “to allow for greater flexibility and a greater ability to use the money. if needed “.
Additionally, he said, “new staffing and initiatives are closely monitored and may be assessed on a case-by-case basis if the promise of fully funded foundation assistance is not fulfilled.”