5-year budget forecast includes millions more in federal coronavirus funds for Lakota

There will be more federal funds coming to Lakota Schools - more than $12 million - soon to help the district with expenses and program impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Treasurer Jenni Logan told the Lakota school board Monday evening. Logan's report was part of the state-mandated, twice-a-year, five-year forecast required to be made by all Ohio public school districts. (PHOTO BY NICK GRAHAM\Journal-News)
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There will be more federal funds coming to Lakota Schools - more than $12 million - soon to help the district with expenses and program impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Treasurer Jenni Logan told the Lakota school board Monday evening. Logan's report was part of the state-mandated, twice-a-year, five-year forecast required to be made by all Ohio public school districts. (PHOTO BY NICK GRAHAM\Journal-News)

Board member says he would like to see aid go to more laptops for students.

The variables are too many now to make much more than estimates on Lakota Schools’ financial future but district officials are pleased to have millions of dollars of federal coronavirus aid added to their coffers in the coming years, they said Monday evening.

Jenni Logan, treasurer for Lakota Schools, presented to the district’s governing school board one of the twice-year-mandated, five-year financial forecasts required by the state.

The forecasts are often problematic and even more so during a biennium budget year, which is currently being negotiated by the Ohio Legislature, since the majority of funding for Lakota Schools comes from the state.

Adding to the murky nature of this year’s spring projections for the next five years are financial changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic but there was good news too, Logan told the board.

The federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Grant Program, which is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, has meant so far more than $14.7 million for Lakota Schools in unexpected funding.

“Having more money than we expected is a good problem to have,” Logan told the board.

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“And we have seen challenges from this pandemic but we have also seen opportunities,” she said referring to funding being used to pay for the extra services forced on the district – and others in Ohio – in dealing with the coronavirus’ impact on student learning.

Lakota’s annual operating budget is more than $177 million.

The ESSER grants have come in three stages since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 and Lakota is expected to receive more than $12 million in the most recent phase of federal monies.

Some of the federal funding comes with stipulations it must be spent on the nationally prevalent “learning loss” caused by coronavirus’ disruption of learning. Lakota and other Ohio districts will be allowed to spend the money through 2024.

One board member said he knows where he’d like to see the money go.

Member Brad Lovell said, “we need to keep getting learning devices (laptops) into our students’ hands.”

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Lakota was one of the first districts in the region to provide free laptops to students in grades 7-12 and officials have said they hope to expand that program into younger grades in the future.

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