The Madison School District will receive more than $3.5 million in federal coronavirus stimulus funds as part of a more than $100 million allocation to Wisconsin schools first announced this summer by Gov. Tony Evers.
The Democratic governor announced the $110 million in one-time federal funding, which amounts to $133.72 per student, during a press event in Milwaukee Thursday. Evers first announced his plans to direct federal funds to schools — an amount initially announced as $100 million — when he signed the state’s 2021-23 biennial budget in July.
At the time, Evers said additional funding for schools would be necessary because the GOP-authored budget fell short of what was needed, while Republicans countered that Evers can address those needs using the millions in coronavirus funds allocated to the state through multiple federal packages.
“As I said when I signed it, the last budget wasn’t good enough for our kids, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic and the supports we know our kids need now more than ever,” said Evers, who is seeking a second term next year. “Republicans could and should have done more.”
Schools can use the federal funds for a variety of needs, including for programming or to purchase supplies, to hire additional teachers and staff or to provide more educational and extracurricular opportunities and mental health supports. The funds can be used over the course of several years, Evers said.
“The Governor’s action will help Wisconsin public schools better cope with the deep budgetary impacts created by the choices of the Joint Finance Committee in its budget planning last summer,” district spokesperson Tim LeMonds said in a statement. “(The Madison School District) will be working to determine how these funds can be used, and its impact on the district’s budgetary reality in the very near future.”
The 2021-23 budget included a $128 million increase in education funding and increased spending on general school aid that — paired with no increase to district revenue limits — would force local districts to lower their property tax levies. School districts say the move limits their ability to offer employee raises and cover other inflationary cost increases.
Evers called on the GOP-led Legislature this summer to meet in special session to boost education spending by $550 million, but Republicans, who have ignored previous special session requests in the past, did not take up the measure. Republicans have said Evers can address those needs using the state’s coronavirus stimulus funds.
“We’ve been raising the alarm since July that relying on one-time federal money that comes with significant strings attached comes nowhere near meeting the ongoing needs of our students, educators, or communities — particularly in a pandemic when we have additional costs on top of regular operating expenses,” state Superintendent Jill Underly said in a statement.
In addition to Madison, Middleton-Cross Plains School District will receive about $985,000, Monona Grove will receive almost $422,000, Sun Prairie Area will get $1.1 million and Verona Area will receive about $750,000, according to information provided by the governor’s office. Milwaukee Public Schools, the state’s largest district, will receive more than $9.6 million.
Of the funding, more than $108 million will go to school districts, and another roughly $1.4 million will be allocated to independent charter schools.