From tents to custodians, Wilton school reopening costs mount
WILTON — Running a school district is never inexpensive, but planning to reopen four buildings with nearly 4,000 students and 600 employees during a pandemic produces costs that are “compelling,” Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith said.
Smith gave the Board of Education a taste of the tab the district is running up at its meeting last week.
The biggest outlay is expected to be about $430,000 to hire seven more custodians to meet the cleaning and sanitizing guidelines established by the state Department of Public Health.
He said the district will also need additional certified full-time equivalents (FTEs), in particular a world language teacher and to augment a physical education teacher at the middle school. This is to better manage groups of students in classrooms and on teams to manage the amount of mixing that takes place.
More classified FTEs in the form of monitors will be needed to help with campus supervision, including promoting social distancing during lunch and in the hallways.
The district expects to spend $60,000 for a company to plan and manage foot traffic flow.
To better access the outdoors, the district is considering purchasing tents for $34,000.
An order has been placed for personal protective equipment and hand sanitizing stations for school entryways and in every classroom at a cost o $122,000.
Because kindergarten students, until now, had sat in groups of four at 3 -foot-square tables, the district is looking at purchasing traditional desks and larger tables to accommodate social distancing, at a cost of $40,000.
Some costs, such as for furniture and supplies will be upfront, others, such as salary, will be spread across the year, Smith said.
“We’re working on a strategy to recover some of those costs,” he said, the first being to “take advantage of all the reimbursement opportunities we have.”
He told the board that Chief Financial Officer Anne Kelly-Lenz has so far submitted $400,000 to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for reimbursement. If the submissions are eligible, the district would receive 75 percent reimbursement.
“We hope to hear back very soon and then we will move on to state funds that are available,” he said.
“We may need to go back to the Board of Finance and request Charter Authority [funds] for what is outstanding” in mid- to late September or October, he said.