School officials in Nashua are already expressing concerns over how much it is costing the district to put in place and maintain remote learning.
“We don’t know how long school is going to be closed,” said Superintendent Jahmal Mosley. “This is a very prodigious undertaking.”
Mosley told the school board that he doesn’t have a tally yet, but noted “there are no free rides here.”
Mosley said there are some unanticipated administrative and teacher costs, as well as potential equipment costs such as computers, the construction of a new web page and additional personnel time.
He stressed that even though the school buildings are closed, remote learning is being required for the next few weeks.
“Because of this, there could be some financial and legal costs to special education kids as well. This hasn’t been done. Parents haven’t pushed back yet because we are still new in this process,” said Mosley.
The Nashua School District has agreed to pay all of its employees, at least during the initial three-week period where the schools are closed until April 3 because of COVID-19 concerns. The matter will be revisited if distance learning continues beyond April 3.
“We are going to pay crossing guards. We are going to pay lunch monitors,” said Dan Donovan, chief operating officer of the school district.
He said none of the workers have fallen into emergency unemployment status, adding there is enough money in the budget to continue paying hourly workers until June 19.
Donovan said that even though there are some new costs, there could be some savings in other areas of the budget. So far, he said, the district has been able to handle the unanticipated costs, as there hasn’t been anything too significant.
The school district is already speaking with its bus service provider, First Student, about its contract. While no definitive decision has been made, Donovan said he is hopeful that the district will not have to pay the full price of its bus service if remote learning continues.
“We are a property-poor town. Our real estate taxes do not afford us the budget that would afford us all of the luxuries that other towns have, and I just want the public to understand,” said Sandra Ziehm of the Board of Education.
Adam Marcoux, president of the Nashua Teachers’ Union, thanked the school board for agreeing to distribute paychecks until at least April 3. He said many teachers have worked harder these last few days than they would have in the classroom, in part because they are now responsible for their daily teaching duties as well as taking care of their own children.
“We are in different times,” he said, explaining this is a transition for many staff members who are trying to manage the challenging situation.
The school district’s staff was ecstatic to learn that they would still be paid, at least in the short-term, said Marcoux.