Holley school district awaits details on stimulus funding, including unexpected $2.4 million

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 March 2021 at 1:54 pm

HOLLEY – When the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was signed by President Biden last week, Holley Central School was expecting the package would include $1,114,999 for the district.

That follows the $373,533 approved last March for Holley in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. That initial funding helped the district pay for additional costs of PPE and other Covid-19 expenses.

Turns out Holley is getting the $1,114,999, plus another $2,428,000 in the American Rescue Plan. The district was notified of the unexpected funding on Monday at 2 p.m.

Sharon Zacher, the district assistant superintendent for business, said Holley has until Sept. 30, 2023 to spend the money. So far the only stipulation known for the money is at least 20 percent needs to go to “loss of learning costs” to help students get caught up who fell behind during the pandemic, Zacher told the Board of Education on Monday evening.

The $2.4 million takes some pressure off the district in the next two to three years. Holley is plugging the $1,114,999 into the proposed 2021-22 budget. Zacher was concerned the following year how the district would respond with the loss of that funding from the budget, especially if state aid didn’t increase significantly.

“This eases the worry about when the $1.1 million is gone,” Zacher said about the additional $2.4 million.

She updated the Board of Education on Monday about the budget progress so far. Next month the board will vote on a budget to present to voters in May.

Right now the budget is at a 3 percent spending increase, $26,553,900 compared to the $25,780,000 for 2020-21. The budget was also at $25,780,000 the previous year.

Zacher’s draft proposal would increase taxes by 2 percent, from $7,427,919 to $7,576,477. That would be just under the district’s allowable tax cap for next school year, which is a 2.029 percent increase.

Holley has the usual budget increases with staff raises and the costs of health insurance. Next school year, Zacher said Holley should budget for an additional bus attendant, some equipment for Buildings and Grounds, a new kettle at $25,000 for the kitchen, and a bigger expense for repair costs for take-home devices for students.

Zacher expects to receive more information from the state and federal governments about the $2.4 million and how it can be used by the district.

“We want to hear more before making a recommendation,” she told the board.