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Aurora Public Schools dealing with the end of pandemic funding

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(The Center Square) – Aurora Public Schools is spending more money than it is taking in this year and has run out of the federal pandemic money that boosted its coffers the last three years.

That’s not unlike many municipalities across the country that are coming to grips with the end of federal pandemic funding.

The district projects $537.8 million in revenue and $548.6 million in expenditures in 2023-24. The district’s fund balance (reserves) will be reduced from $95.4 million to $76.4 million by the end of this school year.

The district received the financial reports at its April 16 meeting.

In 2018-19, the year before the pandemic, Aurora Public School received $111,751 in federal grants. The next year that funding jumped to $243,439 as the federal pandemic money just started to come in. The federal grants then hit $76.5 million in $2020-21. The district got $3.8 million in 2021-22, according to documents.

This was the impact of the pandemic funding.

Now, the district is learning how to deal with budgeting without that money.

The federal pandemic program and one-time dollars will come to an end at the end of the 2023-24 school year, according to district documents, and the district said it will be forced to rely on more moderate revenue to fund the recurring expenditures.

Aurora Public Schools received a large investment through the American Recovery Plan’s ESSER funding, and said it is unlikely that any state, federal, or local funding would be able to sustain the level of funding the district has had due to the federal funding. The district said it has been strategic with its use of federal funding to avoid a “funding cliff” and any potential loss of jobs or services, according to documents.

The district said voters approved four separate mill levy overrides in 1990, 2008, 2012 and 2018. But because of the growth within Aurora, the revenue from the millages exceeded the 25% cap which mean the district didn’t have access to $50.5 million this year that had been voter approved.

Aurora Public Schools did not respond to email seeking comment.

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