Featured: Despite billions of dollars in federal education aid, students are behind in reading and math

Jul 13, 2023 | In The News, Oversight, Wisconsin Voices Blog

The following article, featuring Quinton Klabon, IRG’s Senior Research Director, was published on Thursday, July 13, 2023 by Wisconsin Public Radio.

Wisconsin school districts were initially slow to spend pandemic stimulus aid, but are now on track to exhaust the money by the September 2024 deadline, according to a new report.

Wisconsin’s public schools received nearly $2.4 billion in three rounds of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER funds, meant to help students make up for learning loss during the pandemic.  

But a new report shows the federal aid has done little to close the learning gap caused by the pandemic.  

Quinton Klabon, senior research director for the conservative Institute for Reforming Government, or IRG, found Wisconsin school districts are on track to spend the third round of ESSER funds — about $1.5 billion — by the September 2024 deadline.  

But Klabon found that $492 million remains unallocated, and 63 school districts have spent less than 33 percent of the funds they received including Green Bay, Beloit, Oshkosh, Manitowoc and Superior. Klabon said 13 districts have not spent any of the money.  

IRG has also raised questions about how districts are spending the money. Construction projects make up the bulk of the spending — $270 million, or about 27 percent, according to IRG’s research.

Read the full piece here.