Wisconsin estimates $1.4 billion in relief funding for schools

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction estimates the state will receive about $1.4 billion to distribute to schools from the latest federal coronavirus relief package.

Precise allocations to each state are still being finalized, but DPI expects this round of funding to be double the amount in relief funds allocated in December.

The federal bill allows DPI to hold on to a percentage of the federal funds, and requires 5 percent be spent on learning loss and 1 percent be spent on each summer school and afterschool programs, Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

Many districts put the earlier federal funding toward immediate expenses like cleaning supplies and custodial overtime pay, Chromebooks and internet hotspots.

Stevens Point school district business services director Tom Owens said the latest round of federal money, which districts can allocate through October 2024, will allow his district to look at some of the underlying concerns that have come to light because of the pandemic — like ventilation.

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"We’re probably going to have to do some more looking at our facilities with respect to indoor air quality, our filtration system," he said. "That takes time to evaluate and assess what might be the best approach to take, then there’s a process of bidding, then there’s the construction or remodeling or whatever the case may be," Owens said.

For those kinds of long-term changes, Owens said, a three-and-a-half year timeline to spend the federal funds makes sense.

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