How the Shawnee Mission School District spent $3.8M in federal COVID-19 relief money

Shawnee Mission mask case

With most students back in school full time (above), the Shawnee Mission School District has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus funds on upgrading buildings' air ventilations systems and stockpiling PPE, like masks and face shields, for staff and kids. File photo.

The Shawnee Mission School District has allocated nearly $3.8 million so far in federal COVID-19 relief money since the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Nearly $1 million of that, or roughly a quarter of the total, has been spent on upgrading schools’ air ventilation systems, seen as a critical need to tamp down potential spread of the airborne pathogen.

In August 2020, the Board of Education approved spending nearly $800,000 to purchase and install heavy-duty negative air machines and air scrubbers to better filtrate air in school buildings and have since okayed the use of higher-grade air filters for buildings’ HVAC systems.

Other expenditures approved by the board have gone towards hiring more nurses to help the district with contact tracing, bringing on more custodial staff to help sanitize buildings and stockpiling PPE, like masks and face shields, for staff and students, most of whom are now back learning in-person full time.

How pandemic relief has been spent so far

Last summer, SMSD received an allotment of $2.6 million in COVID-19 relief money through the first CARES Act, passed by Congress in March 2020.

In addition, the district got $1.2 million from Johnson County, which received its own CARES Act allocation.

The Kansas Department of Education has laid out a broad-ranging list of needs for which districts can use federal pandemic relief dollars. That includes purchasing technology to help students learn remotely, hiring more staff to limit class size and add more resources to address learning loss linked to the pandemic.

The district provided the Shawnee Mission Post with a more exact breakdown of how SMSD has allocated its nearly $3.8 million in pandemic relief money so far:

  • Air Ventilation: $982,456.27
  • Contractual Services (Nurses/Custodial): $750,000
  • PPE: $612,992.96
  • Internet Hot Spots: $256,200
  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave: $399,683.34
  • Learning Management System: $147,900
  • Laptops for Remote Work: $234,134.33
  • Other: $145,747.98 (This includes hiring for two positions, including a Principal of Remote Learning, and extra-duty hourly pay)
  • Food Service Assist Cleaning: $154,262.18
  • Non-Public Schools: $75,938.64 (Public schools were required by the first CARES Act to set aside a portion of their relief funds for non-public schools.)

In total, the district has allocated $3,759,315.70, with roughly $388,000 yet to be earmarked as of earlier this month.

More relief expected in coming months

In addition to money included in the first round of federal relief, SMSD expects at least two more rounds of COVID-19 aid to open up in coming months.

Starting Friday, March 26, districts could begin applying to the Kansas Department of Education for relief contained in the second federal stimulus bill passed by Congress in December 2020.

SMSD officials say they expect the district’s allotment from that round of relief to be about $11.5 million.

Then, in late April, relief from the most recent stimulus bill — called the American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress in March 2021 — is expected to start being allocated to states.

District leaders, at this point, says they do not know what SMSD’s allocation from that relief bill will be.