The Joint Committee on Finance passed a GOP motion to use more than $65 million in federal COVID-19 funds to reward districts that have been offering in-person instruction and encourage others to get students back into the classrooms.
“We know it’s good for our kids. It’s the right thing to do, I believe,” JFC Co-Chair Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) said. “It also provides an incentive to those schools that are not open to open to in-person instruction.”
“You’re making a political point showing how tough you are by wanting everything to go back in person,” JFC member Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) said in opposition.
The stimulus bill former President Donald Trump signed in late December included $686.1 million for Wisconsin elementary and secondary schools. Of that, $617.5 million must be distributed to districts and independent charter schools based on a formula that accounts for the number of low-income students residing in each district, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Under the GOP motion that was approved 11-4, the remaining money would be divided up based on a formula that accounts for the hours of in-person instruction in the 2020-21 school year, and only the 172 districts that were originally in line for the funds under the DPI plan will be eligible. The amount of the grants wouldn’t be known until the end of the school year, when in-person instructional hours are reported.
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