Two local superintendents discuss how Missouri bill will affect schools

MISSOURI — $1.9 billion, funding released to schools across Missouri as a budget extra.

It translates to millions of dollars per district in our area.

It’s connected to enrollment, so this Federal Coronavirus Funding could be as much as $19 million for a big district like Joplin.

“This is almost 20 years that I’ve been building a budget for Carl Junction School District and for most of those years, it’s been trying to build a budget with not enough money and be responsible and and just make the best bang for our buck,” said Phil Cook, CJ R-1 Superintendent.

But this isn’t one of those years.

“Carl Junction is should get just a little less than $5 million,” said Cook.

Which they plan on spending on adding teaching positions and other classroom projects.

The goal is to reverse learning loss from early in the pandemic. It’s a common goal for local school districts deciding what to do with Federal COVID Funding just released in a supplemental budget.

We’ve already hired staff knowing that we’re gonna get this extra money,” said Mark Baker, Carthage R-9 Supterintendent.

In Carthage, it’s $10 million, while neighboring district Webb City has six million. The McDonald County School District plans to buy new busses, upgrade school HVAC, and beef up afterschool programming.

It’s a process every southwest Missouri school district is now going through. Identifying needs and matching those to guidelines in how the money is allowed to be spent… in what’s now the third round of funding from Uncle Sam.

Without a doubt, what we’ve done so far with our extra money has been very beneficial, especially our intervention is to work specifically on the kids’ skills that they missed within the last two years and catching up,” said Baker.

And it’s not just learning loss schools are focusing on, but also mental health.

Districts are also considering adding to counseling staff, saying there’s a big need to deal with pandemic related mental health issues.

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