Tiffany bill seeks to halt federal funding to schools that don’t reopen classrooms by Sept. 8

School District of Tomahawk would lose nearly $1 million from budget


By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) introduced a bill on Thursday, June 11 that would halt federal funding to schools, from elementary to university, that don’t reopen classrooms by Sept. 8.

Tom Tiffany
Tom Tiffany

Tiffany described the legislation as a “carrot-and-stick” approach to incentivize schools to open their doors to students and staff this fall.

The “Reopen Our Schools Act,” the first bill Tiffany has authored since being sworn into Congress in May, cites a Wall Street Journal report that says remote learning following the shutdown of schools due to COVID-19 “didn’t work,” and points to a piece written by the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board that suggests children are at low risk of contracting the virus.

“These open-ended school shutdowns have set students back, made it harder for teachers to teach, and pushed parents to the breaking point,” Tiffany said in a statement on Banks’ website. “It’s time to reopen America and get back to school.”

“Reopening our schools safely while also protecting our elderly, vulnerable and at-risk neighbors are not mutually exclusive goals, and I believe we can accomplish both,” Tiffany said.

In the statement, Banks stressed the economic impact of getting children back into classrooms this fall.

“Reopening our schools is the lynchpin to reopening our economy,” he said. “Many parents rely on their kids going to school so they can go to work. To get our society up and running again, we need our children back in school.”

School District of Tomahawk Administrator Terry Reynolds stated the district plans to open in the fall “in some manner with students in the building” and “an option to participate virtually will also be a part of any plan developed.”

“We are equally committed to do this as safely for students, staff, and the Tomahawk community as possible,” Reynolds said. “The District will do what we feel will be in the best interest of our students and staff educationally and safety-wise, by working with the guidance we receive from state and local health officials and Department of Instruction.”

Lincoln County Health Department Director and Health Officer Shelley Hersil said the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Wisconsin Department of Health would be providing guidance on Monday, June 22 regarding fall instruction for students.

“We will make sure schools receive this guidance,” she stated.

Reynolds said the district would lose “approximately $995,000.00” from its budget if federal funding were to be withheld. Federal dollars account for 4.739% of the district’s funding.

“It is unfortunate the Tiffany bill is attempting to bribe schools into fully opening, instead of working with our schools and assisting us in making sure we are making the best decisions for our students, staff and communities,” he stated.

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