The Montgomery County Commissioners Court unanimously agreed at its Oct. 27 meeting to authorize the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management to facilitate reimbursement agreements for Conroe, New Caney, Splendora, Willis, Magnolia and Montgomery ISDs.
“About a month ago, we ran a number of contracts through the court reimbursing a couple of our school districts for some technology costs. ... [Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike] Meador indicated he’d like to see additional funds brought to districts for to cover other expenses that were not covered under that,” said Jason Millsaps, chief of staff for County Judge Mark Keough.
He said the county’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act committee has been working with schools to determine how much those expenses would be.
In light of new guidance issued by the U.S. Treasury on Oct. 19, any amount under $500 per student from CARES funds is an approved and appropriate use of funds, Millsaps said.
The $500 per student amount is more than the county received in CARES funds, but $40 per student would come close to reimbursing actual COVID-19 expenses, he said.
“That dollar amount could be less or more than $40. We set it at $40 for the purposes of notification,” Millsaps said.
As part of the administrative process of distributing the funds, school districts would certify they had received less than $500 per student from any source through the year.
The $40 amount would mean $4.4 million for all school districts in the county, based on enrollment estimates while certified numbers are obtained, he said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said he was cautious of the county being on the hook for expenditures that were not compliant with CARES Act requirements.
“I haven’t heard a word out of Conroe [ISD] asking for this. Why would we proactively spend those funds when we don’t know ... if they want it?” Noack said.
Millsaps said the guidance from the U.S. Treasury covers the county with regards to the school districts.
Costs eligible for reimbursement include those for personnel, increased technology, hiring new teachers, developing online curriculum, transportation, meals and several other costs, he said.
The county has $73 million remaining in CARES funds, Millsaps said.