Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent of Pasco County Schools, and Olga Swinson, the district’s chief finance officer, appeared before the Pasco County Commission at its Dec. 7 meeting, to thank the county for helping the school district when COVID-19 hit.
“Early on in the pandemic, the school system was struggling — trying to figure out how to feed our students and our families; how we could buy devices for kids, so that we could do online learning,” Gadd told the county board.
“I happened to be talking to Commissioner (Commission Chairwoman Kathryn) Starkey and she said, ‘Well, you know we have this CARES Act funding, you might be able to get $1 million of that funding to help out.’”
The acronym CARES stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security.
The school district pulled up the U.S. Treasury document on the implementation of the CARES Act and found out that schools could get funding, Gadd said, so it turned to County Administrator Dan Biles.
Biles informed the district that the county board had authorized him to make sure the district’s request was funded, if it met the criteria.
That resulted in $9 million in funding, Gadd said. “You, the County Commission funded (for) a lot of needs that the school district required (funding for) early on in the pandemic.”
Swinson reported on the specifics to the county board.
“We used the money for the development and implementation of online learning. As you know our students had to take online courses last year.
“About 30% did that from home; the other 70% actually came into our schools.
“We distributed 17,000 computers to our students.
“We also served over 1 million meals to students and families, across the entire county.
“And, we used the money for all of the expenses associated with contact tracing. As you know, we had to do that last year, and we spent a lot of time doing that,” Swinson said.
Starkey, a former school board member responded: “I’m really glad we could help the school district when they needed it because we (the county) got our money so fast.”
Published January 05, 2022