(The Center Square) – The Green Bay Area Public School District is preparing for a “significant fiscal cliff” for the 2024-25 school year once federal emergency funding for COVID-19 dries up.
Like school districts across the U.S., federal emergency funds have allowed districts to realize an increase in funding during the pandemic.
Federal money for the district’s general fund has increased from $12.2 million in 2019 to $33.5 million in 2022, a 175% increase. Total revenues for the district jumped from $275.6 million in 2019 to $304.6 million in 2022, an 11% increase.
But the federal emergency funds are running out. The district is projecting $28.5 million in federal funds in 2023, far more than the pre-pandemic days but a $5 million decrease from the year before.
While the district has had an increase in funding, enrollment has declined over the past six years, peaking at 21,937 students in 2016-17 and dropping to 19,828 in 2022-23.
Green Bay schools’ spokeswoman Lori Blakeslee said the district relied on $12.5 million of COVID-19 emergency funds for operational expenses in the 2022-23 budget. The federal money helps offset no increase in state per pupil aid, Blakeslee said.
“The District is currently planning for a significant fiscal cliff for the 2024-25 school year,” Blakeslee said in an email. “Our state legislature will be working on the state budget this next session, which begins in January.”
Blakeslee said the district used its federal relief money to hire contact tracers, additional nurses, additional staff to support students, technology and personal protective equipment. The money was also used for all-day summer school programing.
“With the (federal emergency) funds being one-time money, we have been reducing staff back to pre-pandemic levels,” Blakeslee said.