Important funding sources for Washington Island School District came to light last week thanks to local voters and the state and federal governments. By a 251-188 margin, voters will allow the district to exceed its state-specified revenue limit by $675,000 for the 2021-22 school year and $775,000 for ongoing operational expenses. The district has gone to referendum over 20 times since 1995, including almost every other year since 2000. Many of the referendum questions posed cover the district’s operational expenses due to the widening gap between what can be levied and funding they receive from the state. Washington Island School District Superintendent of Business Services Sue Cornell says they could not afford to give students a quality education without community support.
Thanks to federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund (GEER), the district has so far received $280,818 and it could receive even more in the future. Despite having an enrollment of fewer than 50 students, Cornell says they still have to do the same things other school districts have to do to keep them and the staff safe.
Cornell pointed out that a portion of its ESSER II funds could go towards plans like making their washrooms touchless for students, staff, and visitors. Washington Island School has been in-person the entire year outside of a three-week period around the Christmas holidays when the town was experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases.