One member of the Sioux City Community School Board says he is concerned about how the school district wants to spend CARES Act Money.
Dan Greenwell says there is too much emphasis put on virtual schooling.
The Sioux City Community School District was awarded more than $20 million in federal emergency relief money due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, the district unveiled a draft budget to the district’s finance committee. Greenwell is part of that group .
“$20 million is just the first round. We are likely to get $35 million more. I don’t know how to say it, but we stumbled over a whole lot of money. And, now the focus that I want is spending each dollar like it’s my own.”
Greenwell says the district spent $2.8 million dollars on summer school, protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
Greenwell believes additional money should go to assist students struggling due to limited schooling early in the pandemic.
“Keep in mind when a student falls behind in younger grades and catching them up is very difficult and most times they can’t catch up, so they are behind forever. Let’s address those issues now on all levels.”
Greenwell says is no money earmarked for helping student who have fallen behind.
“I want to chance the focus on students and teachers, instead of administration and staff and instead of plaques and visits by the governor.”
The Sioux City Community School recently announced a program to provide year-round virtual schooling even after the pandemic.
“A virtual school by all research shows teaching in person is better why would we propose doing something that isn’t as effective as in person.”
Greenwell says school administrators should wait and see if there is a big demand for virtual schooling before moving forward.
“Once we get the vaccine interest in virtual school is going to go way, way, way down.”
“It’s the next shiny object in my opinion teachers are better in a brick-and-mortar classroom.”
Greenwell also says he sees another potential problem with the district turning to virtual learning for the long haul.
“Another think I worry about is we put programs and staff in place with this windfall and we come up with this windfall money and when it runs out we will have to raise taxes to support it.”
A final budget for addressing CARES ACT money will be presented to the full school board during next week’s meeting.
* Siouxland Public Media reached out to the Sioux City Community School District for comment. We expect to hear from Dr. Paul Gausman Wednesday about Dan Greenwell’s concerns.