GOP asks to Evers to prioritize federal funding to districts who offer in-person learning

NOW: GOP asks to Evers to prioritize federal funding to districts who offer in-person learning

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Republican lawmakers want to give school districts that have been offering in-person instruction additional funding to offset the costs they’ve incurred during the pandemic. 

A group of Republicans wrote Gov. Tony Evers a letter asking him to direct nearly $21 million in federal funds to K-12 schools that have been providing in-person instruction since last year. 

“I struggle to understand why we would not reward those schools, teachers and those communities who have selfishly sacrificed putting themselves and their families at risk,” said Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac).

Republicans believe schools that have been teaching students in the classroom deserve a boost in funding because they’ve had to spend more money on PPP, cleaning supplies and upgrading their ventilation systems. 

Last year, Governor Evers distributed $46.6 million in grants to K-12 schools from the federal CARES Act. The money was prioritized to districts that have the highest remote learning needs and those who’ve been the most impacted by the pandemic. 

The two largest districts, Milwaukee and Madison, who’ve remained mostly virtual during the pandemic, received the most funding. Milwaukee Public Schools received over 10 million, while smaller districts such as Racine only saw about $2 million.

Republicans believe schools that have stayed open deserve more funding compared to those who offered little to no in-person instruction.

Rep. Cindi Duchow, (R-Town of Delafield), said the Kettle Moraine School who’s offered in-person instruction since September spent over $2 million to have students back in the classroom. 

“They can’t afford a 2 million hit to their budget,” said Duchow. “We need the governor to help schools out.”

Rep. Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay), a substitute teacher in the Milwaukee area, criticized the GOP spending proposal. 

"Schools offering virtual instruction are still teaching and deserve our support, unlike Legislatures that refuse to meet at all for nine months,” she wrote in a tweet.

The Legislature does not have any control over how the state spends federal funding, only the governor can make those decisions. 

The governor’s office did not immediately respond seeking comment whether or not he would support the proposal.

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