Frisco ISD in person

Frisco ISD may not be reimbursed for much of its COVID-19-related expenses, according to a Monday presentation from Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith.

At the FISD Board of Trustees Monday meeting, Smith said the district is not seeing as much reimbursement as it had hoped for.

As of Sept. 14, the district had about $2.7 million in COVID-19 expenses, Smith said.

Smith discussed multiple reimbursement avenues, including the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which she said is funneled through governor offices. The fund reimburses up to 75% of funds incurred between March 1 and May 20 and covers any necessary expenditures due to the public health emergency that were not accounted for in the most recently adopted budget at the time, she said.

The fund covers a maximum of $250 per educationally disadvantaged student, she said.

Smith said most of the district’s COVID-19-related costs were incurred during the summer in preparation for the fall semester. While some school districts needed to purchase technology and figure out how to transition students from in-person to virtual learning in the spring, Smith said FISD didn’t see many expenses as a result of the process because it already had technology available.

“It was a fairly seamless process for us in terms of spending,” she said. “So the bulk of our spending happened over the summer after that May 20 deadline.”

Smith said the district identified $413,054 that had been submitted for reimbursement by the fund. She said if all of those funds were approved, 75% of that would be reimbursed.

She also discussed reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which she said would cover up to 75% of costs for sanitation and mitigation of COVID-19 from March through September of 2021.

“Although coronavirus disease mitigation sounds like a really broad topic, once we kind of dug down into what would be truly eligible and didn’t overlap with the Coronavirus Relief Fund, we only identified $114,502,” Smith said.

The district is requesting reimbursement for that amount, she said.

“So that leaves just over $2.1 million that we’re considering just not reimbursable at this point that we’re just paying for,” Smith said.

Smith added that counties and cities had received additional CARES Act funding from the state. She said the district reached out to Collin County to see if it could offer some additional support, but that the county did not. She said the district has not yet reached out to Denton County, but that the city of Plano had reached out and asked if the district needed additional support because the city may be able to provide some money to the district.

Smith said she was not sure at the time if the money would be specifically for Frisco ISD schools in Plano or if it would be money for the district.

“We’re pulling some data together for them to be able to talk to their city council,” she said. “So hopefully that will help us a little bit more.”

At the same meeting, Todd Fouche, business and operations deputy superintendent, said the district’s enrollment for the current school year is “strange.”

He said while district enrollment was typical at the secondary level, elementary enrollment was not.

“We called some other districts around us, and it’s something that everyone is seeing right now,” he said.

Most districts that are nearby and similar to Frisco ISD are 2 to 4% below their projections, Fouche said.

“And that’s kind of where we fall, too,” he said. “We’re about 2.5% below our projection.”

Fouche said he could not give a reason for the enrollment trends and also said private schools are seeing a larger drop.

“So I guess just stay tuned,” he said.

Smith said the state has given FISD a hold harmless agreement for average daily attendance for the first 12 weeks of school.

“So that does give us a little bit of time to figure out what’s happening with our enrollment before it starts to affect funding,” she said.

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