City of Smithville aims contribution of CARES funds toward Smithville schools

As Smithville elementary teachers work with students in person each weekday, the city of Smithville is considering giving some of its federal CARES Act funds to the school district to help offset district costs of protective equipment in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SMITHVILLE — With about $440,000 left in unspent federal CARES Act funds, Smithville aldermen are consider providing between $60,000 and $100,000 to the Smithville School District.

In a discussion during a Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday, Sept. 1, Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services at Smithville School District Michelle Kratofil told aldermen if the district’s request is granted, $55,841 would be used at the elementary school level to provide classrooms with more layers of protection including table guards and isolation tents in nurses offices.

An additional amount of about $3,000 is also proposed for bell covers for band students.

“If we are going to support this for the elementary schools, we should probably look at helping the middle school and high school as well,” Alderman John Chevalier said.

Kratofil explained that if funds were to be contributed to the upper levels, the district would need roughly another $40,000.

“I would support something like that,” Chevalier added.

Alderman Jeff Bloemker feels differently.

“In the interest of reflecting our strong partnership with the school and to support them with the many issues they face, I asked at the joint school/city board meeting what unfunded issues were keeping them up at night. One of the things identified was (personal protective equipment) and they presented us with the cost of PPE for the elementary school. Given the importance of consistent one-on-one education at the level, those children are attending school every day. I strongly support helping to provide the proper protection for teachers and students,” Bloemker stated in an email after the meeting.

Bloemker said he thinks the city should fund the elementary request and bell covers, but hold off on additional requests until the city has a better grasp of expenditures coming in the near future.

“Knowing that the elementary kids are going every day and therefore have reduced classroom space,” Bloemker said, “that’s why I want the push to make sure that is taken care of.”

Alderman Melissa Wilson said something similar, agreeing that she supports the proposed amount for the elementary schools and bell covers.

“I’d support funding for the schools,” Alderman Steve Sarver added, agreeing with Chevalier. “All (three levels).”

Although the issue was brought to the board for a vote Tuesday, Sept. 15 with varying opinions, the board was only asked to fund the elementary level request with bell covers and will readdress the upper level at an October meeting.

“I have remained concerned that the city’s needs may escalate quickly should a staff member or officer or multiple officers contract the virus,” Bloemker said. “Without a specific bill or dollar amount, I suggested that while we consider the request (for the upper levels), we hold off on approval until we have a better sense of our own needs. We continue to have a strong partnership with the schools. As the parent of a son who is a middle school student and football player, I want to ensure that we collectively do everything we can to ensure our students have a successful year.”

The board approved a first reading to provide CARES funds to SSD in the amount of $58,129.99. A final reading will be included in the next session’s consent agenda.

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at sean.roberts@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6606.

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