Although the Janesville School District is preparing for significant financial fallout caused by COVID-19, it might get some help from the federal government.

Exactly how much money is still in question.

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, passed in March by Congress, was designed to help soften the economic blow caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Part of the CARES Act—the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program—allows the school district to apply for funding through a grant. The district is estimated to receive a little more than $2 million through the grant.

The money can be spent on supplies, transportation and labor related to COVID-19, outreach to specific populations, long-term closures, mental health support, after-school or summer activities, and staff employment.

The application period is expected to open at the end of July, and the money should be available in mid-August, said Tami Carlson, financial analyst and grant manager for the district.

The district would be able to spend the money as needed until September 2022, Carlson said.

“My understanding is they (the federal government) feel that the impact of this COVID-19 is going to be something that will actually be felt for several years to come, and so they felt this funding method is made to help us during those years where we have those challenges,” she said.

The district won’t receive all the money that’s allocated, however. It must share the funds with the seven private schools within district boundaries if those schools decide they want or need the money.

Federal funds cannot be provided directly to private schools, so the Janesville School District would buy and provide the supplies and services for the private schools, Carlson said.

District officials are unsure how much money they will receive because of a disagreement between the state and federal government over the private school allocations. The state believes the allocations should be based on low-income enrollment; the federal government disagrees, saying the number should depend on total enrollment.

When the application period opens, the school district will apply using numbers for both scenarios. The application and formulas used by the state Department of Public Instruction have not been released, Carlson said, so the district is unsure of the split.

Under the grant program, the district will incur expenses and then send claims to the department, which will review the claims and reimburse the district as long as the expenses fall within grant guidelines.