Federal CARES Act
Last Friday, March 27, the federal CARES Act was adopted and signed into law. Part of the bill creates an Education Stabilization Fund to help LEAs and states with costs related to COVID-19 and school closures. The Congressional Research Service estimates that Wisconsin will receive $175 million under that program. Additionally, state governors are being given funds to direct for further K-12 and higher educational needs at this time; Wisconsin’s estimated share is $47 million. Funds will be in addition to Title I, IDEA, and other federal program allocations; the CARES Act money does not reduce or replace existing federal education programs.
As soon as DPI receives details from the U.S. Department of Education on how these funds are to be accessed and used, we will share that information with the field.
Payments to Employees and Contractors
One specific item in the CARES Act, section 18006, has prompted a number of questions from LEAs and attorneys:
A local educational agency, State, institution of higher education, or other entity that receives funds under “Education Stabilization Fund,” shall to the greatest extent practicable, continue to pay its employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus.
There is no specific definition of “to the greatest extent practicable.” We are working with the U.S. Department of Education and other partners to provide additional guidance on this provision.
Reminder: School Finance FAQ
We continue to update the COVID-19 School Finance FAQ with questions and answers as they come in and we are able to address them. Recent updates include topics such as private school equitable services, cancelled professional development, keeping employees on payroll, and Common School Fund.