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Gov. Evers funnels $90 million in federal funding to public schools, to help offset inflation costs

Student disembark from a Milwaukee Public Schools bus.
Emily Files
Student disembark from a Milwaukee Public Schools bus.

As the new school year approaches, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is hoping to give K-12 schools some breathing room in their budgets.

Evers, who is running for reelection, announced Tuesday he’s directing more one-time federal aid to public schools.

"I’m investing $90 million in K-12 education across our state, to make sure kids can bring their best selves to school, while also assisting schools to have the resources they need to do what’s best for kids," Evers said at a press conference in Madison.

Out of the $90 million, $15 million is earmarked for school-based mental health services. The rest of the funding, which equates to about $91 per student, is meant to help schools pay for rising costs and retain staff.

As schools deal with high inflation, state funding has remained mostly flat. Republican lawmakers didn’t increase per-pupil revenue limits in the last biennial budget. They pointed to the more than $2 billion in federal pandemic funds for schools as a reason not to further increase state aid.

Dan Rossmiller is government relations director with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. He says the $90 million from Evers will help, but it’s not enough.

"If you can imagine your household budget is essentially frozen and your costs are going up 6, 7, 8%, getting some money is a good thing. Is it gonna solve all the problems? No," Rossmiller said. "That’s not by itself going to make up for inflation."

Evers already directed $110 million in one-time federal funds to schools to help make up for the lack of new state aid. Milwaukee Public Schools, which received about $9.6 million in that round of funding, is spending $3.4 million of it on longevity bonuses to retain teachers at the upper range of the district pay scale.

Republican Tim Michels, who is running against Evers in the gubernatorial election, criticized his opponent. Michels tweeted Evers was trying to make voters forget his “failures” by writing a big check for schools.

Whoever is elected governor will create a state budget proposal to send to the Legislature in 2023.

Editor's note: Audio from Gov. Evers' press conference is courtesy of WKOW-TV in Madison.

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Emily is an editor and project leader for WUWM.
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