Fresno Unified among 60 school districts urging Congress for $202 billion in COVID-19 funding

The effect of 'shelter in place' restrictions is being felt financially by the biggest public school districts across the country.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- After getting more than 70,000 students set up to learn from home to providing over a million meals to them, the Fresno Unified School District is now left in a new teaching landscape.

These new challenges come at a cost - one that's being felt financially by the biggest public school districts across the country.

More than 60 superintendents including Fresno Unified's Bob Nelson, signed a petition urging Congress for more funding come the next coronavirus relief bill.

"The vast majority of school funding comes from our tax base and our tax base is eroding because they're not able to shop or be out and about," says Nelson.

The districts are asking for $175 billion in Educational Stabilization Funds to be distributed among them.

They're also seeking an additional $27 billion to help individuals with disabilities and emergency infrastructure funds.

Nelson says they're looking at a 10% to 20% reduction in their general funds.

"We have a 9% reserve, so we would move into the reserve funds as well as leverage any federal stimulus dollars," he says.

Nelson says without the funding, they would have to make cuts in their budget.

This could even mean layoffs, although Nelson assures that it will be a last-case scenario.

The president of the Fresno Teachers Association, Manuel Bonilla, says funding will also be beneficial in reopening schools.

"If we want social distancing in our classrooms, that means smaller classrooms, that means more teachers and more facilities," says Bonilla.

Nelson says the district is still trying to figure out what fall will look like, and there currently is no return date set.

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