Portage Health Foundation donates $428,450 to schools for COVID-19 expenses

Copper Country

HANCOCK, Mich., (WJMN) – Portage Health Foundation donated money to school districts in Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties to help with costs of returning to in-person instruction while following COVID-19 safety precautions.

Kevin Store, executive director of PHF, says they recognize the work schools have done to reopen and also the financial resources they’ve expanded on for supplies.

“We just felt that one of the things that we can do to help our community and to help our schools open safely for our children was to help provide some financial relief to help those schools minimize the effects that that’s had on their general operating budget,” said Store.

PHF gave $5,000 plus a $50 per pupil stipend to each school district except for the three with less than fifteen pupils which received $2,000 and the $50 per pupil stipend. Store says the money is for any supplies they need for returning safely.

“Anything and everything that they need towards their reopening and to do so in a safe manor we want to be able to utilize those funds for,” said Store.

Doreen Kramer, Superintendent for Houghton-Portage township schools, says the money was a welcomed suprise.

“It was a welcome surprise, we have been purchasing ppe equipment so when we heard that the Portage Health Foundation had donated to schools and we found out that we were receiving $76,000, actually $76,700 we were excited,” said Kramer, “The first round of supplies that we purchased over the summer were over $50,000.”

Kramer said that some of the items like masks will be reoccurring expenses. The school district also bought some cameras and will be purchasing more items necessary for their remote learners including cameras.

“We need to purchase more things and make sure that we have those things to make sure that our students are receiving what they can get if they signed up for the remote virtual learning and we want to make sure that our teachers have what they need as well,” said Kramer.

Kramer said that the money will make a big difference because and that it helps all around because they are expenses that a year ago they didn’t have in their budget.

“There might have been areas where we were maybe not going to buy as much or maybe we were going to see what we could do or maybe we would even look for some donations at times we’ve done that in the past this will allow us to move forward and feel comfortable you know buying extra items that we would need,” said Kramer.

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