Virtual learning cost Monroe School District $1.4 mil

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 6:15 PM CST
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MONROE, Wis. (WMTV) - Virtual learning has issued a hefty price tag for classrooms.

The Monroe School District estimates they’ll spend $1.4 million that they didn’t plan for.

“I think districts have had to scramble to reorganize and prioritize funding,” Monroe’s District Administrator Rick Waski said

Waski said the school district is assessing how to pay off more than a million dollars in unplanned expenses. Those dollars have been spent on new Chrome Book purchases monthly hot spots and paying teachers for their extra work.

Hot spots alone cost the Monroe School District $6,000 per month.

“It’s been a grind,” Waski said.

A recent report from the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI) says 97% of Wisconsin public schools switched to virtual learning.

“Each district’s situation is unique,” Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction Policy and Budget Dir. Erin Fath said.

Fath oversaw the survey. She said the final report shows just how much some schools are struggling to pay off these bills.

“I think some districts would say ‘yeah, we’re in a pinch because of this’ others may say ‘we’re able to kind of ride this out,’ but they have to make sure they’re set up in the long run with adequate resources, whether that’s tax breaks, or state aid or federal aid,” Fath said.

“We are hoping to get some aid, last year we were able to get $345,000 through the CARES Act,” Waski said.

Waski said with additional grant money and the district’s savings account, Monroe schools will get through the pandemic, without long-term consequences for students, but that won’t be the case for everyone.

“I will tell you, there are a number of school districts who are not [going to be okay],” Waski said. “There are a number of districts, looking at some difficult personnel decisions this year and in the coming years.”

Since the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) is one of the largest in our viewing area. NBC15 News is also working to find out how much MMSD has spent on virtual learning so far.

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