Serving the High Plains

San Jon schools to receive $258,000 in relief

SAN JON — San Jon Municipal Schools soon will receive more than $258,000 from the third round of federal coronavirus relief. Finding ways to spend in an allotted time is proving to be a challenge for the district’s superintendent.

Superintendent Janet Gladu said during the board’s meeting Thursday the district soon will receive $172,278.89 in federal money, then another $86,139.44 later. It must be spent by Sept. 30, 2024.

Gladu said 20% of those funds — or $43,069 — must be spent to alleviate learning loss suffered by students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said many districts are showing up to three years of learning loss by students during the pandemic, but San Jon “didn’t show significant loss” because it returned to in-person classes relatively early this year.

“We’ve had so much money running through here (from federal sources), I’m running out of ideas to spend it all,” Gladu said.

She offered a list of spending possibilities for the coronavirus relief funds she must submit by June 24:

• Continue paying for a part-time custodian;

• Adding to extended learning time programs;

• More air filters for the climate control system;

• New drinking fountains that can allow personal bottles to be refilled;

• Bathroom remodels;

• Canopy or shade structures for outdoor classrooms;

• Window screens for classrooms;

• New student desks and chairs that foster social distancing;

• Touchless doors;

• Mental health guest speakers.

Board members asked about putting a new activities bus on the list, which would cost about $200,000. The district already has the purchase of such a bus budgeted for the upcoming school year if the federal government rejects it.

In other business:

• Gladu discussed likely changes to the student handbook that will bar students who are taking 100% remote-learning classes from running for student council president. She said such a scenario came up recently with a student. Gladu said students who participate in student council, chess club, National Honor Society and other such clubs must be on campus all day.

• The board approved its projected $3.73 million budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which includes $2.4 million in operational expenses. Gladu noted the budget does not include new federal coronavirus relief funds or grant money because requests on how to use that money have not yet been approved.

• The board approved a resolution that would place a two-mill capital improvements tax ballot question on the Nov. 2 ballot.

• The board approved a $102,213 transportation contract with Brats LLC of San Jon. Business manager Julie Lafferty noted the New Mexico Public Education Department will take back all unused funds for transportation, instead of the usual 50%.

• The board approved $33,549 and $5,703 in grants that will be used for the salaries of a special-education assistant and speech specialist.

• The board, without discussion, approved a second reading on state policy changes regarding student discipline, student dress, nondiscrimination, and suspension or termination of professional and support staff. It also approved a second reading about policy changes for open enrollment for military families, board member travel expenses and student physical exams.

• Thursday’s meeting was the final one for administrative assistant Stacy Kent, who is retiring after 24 years with the district. “It’s been a great ride,” she told the board.

• The board approved its annual statement to comply with the Open Meetings Act.