Orange County School Board budgets school year for coronavirus

CARES Act grants help to fill some gaps

ORLANDO, Fla. – Board members with Orange County Public Schools began their budget process for the next school year on Thursday trying to fill holes left by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a presentation by staff, the district will be receiving more than $60 million in CARES Act funds.

OCPS will receive $5.1 million from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER).

Staff members said the money will be used to help children who were challenged by virtual learning at the end of last school year and over the summer.

OCPS will also receive $55.4 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).

Staff members said that money will go toward purchasing instructional technology equipment, thermometers for schools, substitute teachers, health assistance, and some of it will be put into a reserve fund.

The district was also considering purchasing walk-through thermal scanners, two at each high school, and two at each middle school.

They would carry a price tag of $531,000.

They were also considering installing UV lighting for schools' HVAC systems, with an estimated cost of $13.2 million.

Board members expressed some concern on Thursday about the number of students opting for online learning.

Staff members said the district is funded 20-25 percent less per virtual student than they are for one that physically attends class.

The public hearing on the adopted budget is set for Sept. 8.

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