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The cost to clean schools in a COVID-19 world

Many districts in Kentucky will spend more than $1M re-opening this school year.
Cleaners at Great Crossing High School in Scott County are preparing to welcome students back...
Cleaners at Great Crossing High School in Scott County are preparing to welcome students back this fall.(WKYT)
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -

Schools are set to re-open this fall. Many districts are relying on extra state and federal funds to keep kids safe at school. The price to do it, is the highest it’s ever been.

“We’re spending about $50,000 to replace water fountains with water bottle fillers. We’re spending another $40,000 with new no-touch cleaning equipment,” notes Scott County Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub. “We’ve got about $25,000 we’ve already spent on the point and shoot thermometers to meet the requirement, the temperature check, before school entry.”

A recent study by the American Associaton of School Administrators says re-opening an average-sized district will cost about $1.8 million extra dollars. Kentucky Department of Education Associate Commissioner Robin Kinney called the national survey aspirational.

“In that survey they talk about ensuring that there is a nurse in every school building, and in Kentucky we just don’t have that. It also talked in terms which would be additional costs about monitors for every school bus, and we don’t have that,” says Kinney.

Dr. Hub says Scott County has already received about $1.2 million from federal funding through the CARES Act and state funding from the governor’s allotment to public school districts.

“There may be additional costs for transportation and for food service as we look at remote learning for many of our students. We really think there could be an impact financially to either extra routes, or maybe a different way of delivering our food or packaging our food or even the types of food we can serve,” notes Kinney.

There are proposals in Congress for more education funding. The proposals are awaiting Senate consideration.

Before the pandemic hit, Woodford County Superintendent Scott Hawkins was trying to find funding for a new high school. He worries the financial impact of COVID-19 will have an effect on his district’s ability to expand. Governor Beshear said Kentucky is facing a $1.1B budget shortfall in the next fiscal year if the state doesn’t get more federal help. Part of that shortfall could land in the classroom.

“That will impact every school district in Kentucky. There is no way with the amount that the legislature already budgets for us, that 1.1 billion dollars wouldn’t impact us in a very significant way,” notes Hawkins.

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