District 300 uses federal COVID-19 funds for social workers, tutors

Federal funds helped pay for more mental health social workers, tutors, other employees to help with students’ COVID needs, chief financial officer says

Algonquin-based Community Unit School District 300 has been able to hire a number of staff members to help students with their academic and social-emotional needs, Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Porter said told school board members during budget hearing last week.

With the help of the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, meant to help school districts with the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had, the district was able to add 101 additional positions for $6.1 million, Porter said during last Tuesday’s board meeting.

The staff hired with these ESSER funds will help support students’ academic recovery, and also with learning loss from the pandemic, Porter said.

“These positions are tied to the availability of ESSER funding,” Porter said.

Included in the many employees hired with ESSER funds, are mental health social workers, remote resource teachers and tutors.

In addition, District 300 added nine new positions related to what Porter said are “core investments” for the district’s educational program. Paying for these new positions, such as digital learning coaches, cost the district $1.2 million.

For this fiscal year, District 300′s operating budget is $297.6 million for revenues, which is $600,000 more than the district’s projected expenditures of $297 million. Although there is a deficit expected in the capital projects fund, a transfer of $19 million from the education fund which was approved in June will offset that, Porter said.

Property taxes are the biggest source of the District’s revenue by far: in fiscal 2021, it is projected to get $180,159,978. Salaries make up the largest chunk of what the district is spending, with $157,130,481.

Both the district’s revenues and expenses went up this fiscal year.

Last fiscal year’s operation operating budget included $290.4 million in revenues, with an expected 289.4 million in expenses, giving the district a surplus of just under $1 million, Porter said.

The budget was approved unanimously by school board members.

Cassie Buchman

Cassie Buchman

I cover Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills for the Northwest Herald.