Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly with Gov. Tony Evers | Evers’ Facebook
Gov. Tony Evers travelled to Milwaukee’s North Division High School Thursday to announce that he is directing $110 million in new federal coronavirus relief funds to Wisconsin K-12 schools.
When he signed the 2021-23 biennial budget earlier this year, Evers promised to invest more than $100 million in K-12 education, saying the Legislature’s budget, which slashed Evers’ budget proposal for schools by about 90%, was inadequate.
“The governor directed the new funding to help address Legislative Republicans’ failure to meaningfully invest in education during the budget process and to support kids and schools as they continue to deal with the effects of and recover from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” a statement from Evers’ office declared.
“It took @GovEvers six months to get this funding out the door. A competent administration could have done this in a week,” the Senate GOP Twitter account shot back. “And $18 BILLION for schools is not enough? How much is enough?”
The Legislature’s budget did not increase state funding for schools, instead calling on schools to use federal coronavirus relief funds to cover costs usually covered by the state.
“Due to the inaction by the majority in our Legislature, Wisconsin schools face a fiscal cliff after the federal COVID-19 relief runs out,” Jill Underly, Wisconsin’s state schools superintendent, said in a statement. “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.”
The new funding will allow schools to hire more staff, increase educational and extracurricular activities, invest in mental health, buy supplies or “whatever they need and, most importantly, whatever our kids need,” Evers said. “I’ve always said what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state, and these funds will go a long way toward helping ensure our kids get the services and resources they need to rebound and recover.”
Every district in Wisconsin will receive an additional $133.72 in per-pupil funding. The Norris school district, with only 16 students, will receive $2,139. Milwaukee, with 71,942 students, will receive $9.6 million. The Oshkosh school district, which has 9,428 students, will receive $1.26 million in per-pupil aid.
“I am grateful that Governor Evers continues to find ways to provide funding to schools and prioritize our kids,” Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) said in a statement. “We know this $110 million investment will help our school districts to avoid having to choose between laying off teachers and cutting programs or going to referendum as they come out of the pandemic.”
In his radio address, Evers said the funds “are no substitute for long-term, sustainable funding for our schools and classrooms,” but added that the money “will go a long way towards helping our kids get the services and resources they need—because that’s what’s best for our kids.”
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