When it comes to planning for the cost of feeding students in Crossett schools in the time of a national pandemic, no one knows what the final number may be.

The district’s financial director also says he believes other COVID-19 responses will eat their way through the district’s rollover funds from last year.

When Finance Director Norman Hill presented the proposed budget for the 2020-2021 financial year recently, the school board adopted it after hearing him address those concerns. 

Hill said the district had approximately $100,000 to carry over from last year after schools closed early. 

However, Hill said that he felt like the district would spend that and then some this year in order to keep up with all of the COVID-19 restrictions.

“COVID-19 is really expensive and comes with a lot of extra costs,” Hill said.

Even with the added expense, Hill said the school district’s budget was in good shape with the exception of the food service category. 

The district was in the red in that area and would probably continue to be in the red, he said. 

Hill said there was no way to accurately budget the food service because they had no way to predict how much they would spend on food this semester. All students may eat free until December and Hill said he doesn’t know how to predict how many will utilize that. 

Several students who used to eat lunch daily in the cafeteria are now virtual students, and Hill said he doesn’t know how many will come to the school to pick up those lunches. 

Hill also said that for the food category, he budgeted what the schools used last year with the expectation that budget would have to be adjusted accordingly.

Along with the budget the board approved bids for three new buses. Two of the buses are 77-passenger vehicles that will cost $85,000 each. 

Both of those will be purchased from Summit. 

The other is an 84-passenger bus from Central State that will cost the district approximately $115,000.

In other news, the board voted to allow personnel to be assigned or hired to run the after school program. 

The program is funded by a 21st Century grant and the teachers who will be working for the program include Kelly Savage, Sara Jones, Shada Hamilton, John Brooks, Andrea Canday, Linda Jackson, Constance Jones, Michelle Bradford and Nesia Brockwell. 

Crossett Elementary Principal Veronica Robinson is the site coordinator and her assistant principal, Janet Ricks, is the program director.

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