MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon School Board approved Wednesday the school district’s 2021-22 budget, which will see the district continuing to make good on a goal to enhance equity throughout its schools.
The district is expecting revenue of about $122.8 million and expenditures of about $127.3 million. Despite outspending its predicted revenue, the district will still end the school year with about $6.3 million in reserves, about 5% of its budget.
A big change in the district’s budget is the elimination of what were called pay to play fees for extracurricular activities at the high school.
“We want to provide each and every student (that opportunity),” Superintendent Ismael Vivanco said. “Right now, some can afford to pay and others can’t.”
In 2018, the district eliminated a $35 fee students pay for Associated Student Body cards, meaning they could then attend sports games and other school activities for free.
Included in this year’s budget is the hiring of a director of equity and inclusion, something the district said it would do in an effort to address issues of equity.
The budget will also allow the district to expand its transitional kindergarten programs — which are designed to give kids more time to be ready for kindergarten — to all six of its elementary schools, Vivanco said.
The district will also be able to add an additional classroom for students with autism at Washington Elementary School, and make it so that each elementary school has an assistant principal, an initiative the district started last budget season.
The district will also benefit this year from federal COVID-19 relief funds, Vivanco said. Those funds will be used, in part, to hire six new counselors and an intervention specialist, on professional development for teachers and for additional student support, he said.
The relief funds will also allow the district to replenish its school libraries with books that weren’t returned during the pandemic, he said.