Education costs expected to rise in the coming school year due to the pandemic

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Lawmakers learned more Tuesday about the cost of education in Maine and how it's likely to increase for the upcoming school year.

The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee held a briefing and discussed the effects of COVID-19 on education.

Despite uncertainty about how and whether students will return to classrooms this fall, the committee worked through potential expenses.

PPE, more bus capacity to facilitate social distancing, testing, and providing internet connectivity for all students were just some of those costs.

They also expect a dire need for more school teachers and staff.

Vicki Wallack, Communications Director for Maine School Management, stressed the need to keep education strong in the face of the pandemic.

"Since we don't know if we are going to reopen in the fall or reopen in some parts of the state and not others we need to prepare for all scenarios. We also need to recognize that in the long term regardless of the virus we need to change the way we operate to better support parents and make sure all children have equal opportunity to learn regardless of their zip code."

Funding for a statewide online education experience that is planned to go live this September was also discussed.