Skip to Content

Digging Deeper: How virtual learning impacts school district budgets

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

MADISON/MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- Students around the country are preparing for a school year like no other. Many are starting the year off virtually.

The Madison Metropolitan School District starts Sept. 8. For its school year, Kelly Ruppel, the Chief Financial Officer for the district, told 27 News they're not spending a lot of money on virtual learning, but it's also not saving a lot either.

Ruppel explained to 27 News, the majority of the district's budget, about 80 percent, is going towards personnel, which is typical.

Money also still needs to be spent on buses since they will be providing them for students using the district's child care sites, however, the need more buses to maintain physical distancing requirements. Since this is the case, Ruppel said the district will see a small amount of savings for transportation, but no more than 15 percent from previous years.

Ruppel said there also won't be much money saved on utilities, since the buildings are being used as child care sites and in-person special education.

According to Ruppel, any extra money the district has in the budget is being used on IT support, setting up classrooms for physical distancing and buying personal protective equipment (PPE.)

That's the same for other districts 27 News contacted including Beloit and Middleton-Cross Plains.

"We have had to purchase and will need to continue to purchase a wide variety of personal protective equipment, from masks to Plexiglas dividers," Middleton-Cross Plains District Superintendent Dr. Dana Monogue told 27 News.

The district is also starting the year off virtually but is hoping to move to a hybrid learning model when it is safe to do so. So that's why they're busy preparing now for when students return. Just one of the classes the district is trying to figure out, music.

"If kids come back in with their instruments, how can we maintain social distancing and illness hygiene when kids are playing instruments can sanitizer in all of our learning spaces," Monogue said.

The Middleton-Cross Plains school district did receive money from the Federal CARES Act, but Monogue said it didn't help much. She also said like other districts, they're facing a budget reduction from the state.

Despite the costs of PPE, Monogue said the district this year will see some savings when it comes to hiring substitute teachers, fuel costs and utilities.

Monogue said as the school year goes on, they're waiting to see what other unforeseen costs they will be dealing with.

Jessica Porter

Skip to content