County giving $358,000 in CARES funds to schools

SUPPORT FOR SCHOOLS — Representatives of local school districts met with Warren County officials Dec. 31 for the announcement of over $358,000 in CARES funding being awarded to schools. Pictured, from left, are Gregg Klinginsmith of Warren County School District; Maranda Anderson of Gasconade County School District; County Commissioners Hubie Kluesner, Joe Gildehaus and Dan Hampson; and CARES committee members Tom Kemper and Burt Schweissguth. Adam Rollins photo.
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

The Warren County Commission is granting over $358,000 in federal CARES Act funding to area school districts to reimburse COVID-related expenses.

Commissioners formally announced the funding grants Dec. 31, saying they are the final payments currently planned out of $4.1 million in federal COVID relief funds. Funds were split between five school districts based on the number of their students who live in Warren County. School districts received $71 dollars per student.

Below are the funding totals, which Presiding Commissioner Joe Gildehaus said will be disbursed in early February:

• Warren County R-III — $209,237.

• Wright City R-II — $107,352.

• Washington School District — $40,186.

• Gasconade County R-I — $1,420.

• Montgomery County R-II — $568.

Gildehaus said the county gave no specific requirement for how schools use the money going forward. The CARES Act funding is intended to aid or reimburse COVID-related expenses that were outside organizations’ normal budgeting.

“For us, it’s a lot of mass sanitizers. We’ve spent a lot that way,” said Maranda Anderson, who represented the Gasconade R-I School District at the funding announcement.

Gildehaus added that the commission wants to provide the funding for the school districts well in advance of their budgeting for the 2021-2022 school year. The grant is one of the final acts of outgoing Associate Commissioners Hubie Kluesner and Dan Hampson.

“We’re very appreciative of the commission thinking of school districts, because we’re certainly in need,” said Wright City Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger. “Rural schools are highly dependent on state funds, which we’ve already been told we are not receiving all of this year. So we’re looking to catch funds anywhere we can.”

Berger said his district has already spent more than its grant amount on extra custodial staff, personal protective equipment and sanitizing supplies to keep the schools clean and healthy. 

“Those are things we knew we couldn’t hesitate on to provide a five-day-a-week seated instruction,” Berger commented. “It says a lot from our county government that they’re stepping up to do this for the school districts.”

Warren County R-III Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith said his district has dealt with similar expenses, although he commented that leaders have tried to be conservative and only approve necessary expenses to keep people safe.

Before committing to how the reimbursed money will be put to future use, Klinginsmith said the district is asking state education regulators what constraints might apply to the funding.

Payments to the schools will be among the last planned disbursements out of the county’s pool of CARES funding, with $100,000 remaining as an emergency fund, said Gildehaus. With the federal funds close to expended, Gildehaus commented that there is more need than available funding among community organizations and businesses.

“We know a lot of people need it. But how do you pick and choose what dollar amount for this business or that business? And we don’t know if there will be more aid coming or not,” Gildehaus said. He explained that the commission and an advisory committee for the COVID funding believed providing the remaining funds to schools would meet the most need.


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