EATON — Preble County Educational Service Center (ESC) board members and administrators discussed budgetary issues, preschool transportation and other possible uses for COVID-19 relief funds during their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, May 26.
Treasurer Kerry Borger informed the board that the ESC will face a $341,000 deficit for the 2021-22 school year, but that projections show the district “breaking even” the following year.
“Overall it’s going to be a pretty rough year, but we have a cushion to cover that, and next year we’ll be fine,” Borger said.
Borger also discussed possible uses for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds provided by the federal government as part of its ongoing efforts to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds are available for two years, and can be used for purposes including coordination of COVID-19 response, providing school administrators with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools, and efforts to address the needs of low-income students, children with disabilities, homeless students and foster care youth.
Preble ESC received two rounds of ESSER funds totaling $58,340 and $42,778, according to Borger, who said that one possible strategy would be to use a portion of those funds to pay for one to two years of counseling services from Eaton-based Gebhart Counseling Solutions, LLC.
Gebhart provides counseling services at Preble ESC one day a week at a cost of $13,000 each year, according to Borger.
Board members also discussed plans for National Trail Local School District to use ESSER funds to provide bus transport for students who attend preschool at ESC.
“They’ll be offering free transportation for their students, which no other school districts in the county do,” Borger said.
National Trail Superintendent Bob Fischer announced the plan during Trail’s regular monthly Board of Education meeting the previous night, saying that transportation difficulties currently prevent some students in the district from attending preschool.
“We have to find ways of helping get kids past those barriers,” Fischer said at that time.
Assistant to the ESC Superintendent Shawn Hoff stated that he would be speaking to two local school districts about adding additional preschool classrooms during the ESC board’s April 28 meeting. Hoff also discussed possible barriers to attendance.
“We have a lot of preschool-aged students out there whose parents aren’t sending them,” Hoff said during the April meeting. “So we’re going to sit down and talk about what that looks like and how that can maybe be serviced.”
The ESC board also briefly discussed efforts by National Trail and Tri-County North Local School Districts to provide preschool classrooms onsite, as well as a third preschool classroom the ESC is planning to add.
Spring Into Summer Drive-Thru
Finally, ESC Preschool Supervisor Deb Barnett updated the board on the Preschool Program’s Early Childhood Family Spring Into Summer Drive-Thru event. The event, which was organized in collaboration with the Early Childhood Coordination Committee, took place Thursday, May 13 at Fort St Clair State Park.
ESC preschool students dressed up as the letters of the alphabet from the book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” according to Barnett, and gave out coloring books and crayons to participating families.
“We had a great time making connections with families!” Barnett said.
Other schools and agencies which attended the event included Preble Shawnee, Preble County Head Start, Preble County Early Head Start, and the Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities, according to Barnett.
The Preble County Educational Service Center board meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the ESC Office, located at 597 Hillcrest Dr. in Eaton.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish