Louisiana K-12 Schools in Line for $287 Million in CARES Act Funding

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana can apply for almost $287 million in federal aid to support learning for K-12 students whose education has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Thursday.

More than $13.2 billion in emergency relief for K-12 education is being made available nationwide through the federal CARES Act.

The Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund can be used for immediate needs – such as tools and resources for distance education, ensuring student health and safety – and developing and implementing plans for the next school year. The money comes with “very few bureaucratic strings attached,” DeVos said.

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“I encourage them to focus on investing in the technology, distance learning resources, training and long-term planning that will help education continue for both teachers and students, no matter where learning takes place,” she said.

State education departments have until July 1 to apply. The U.S. department says it intends to process applications within three days. State agencies may use up to 10 percent of the money while distributing 90 percent to local districts.

“This funding will give Louisiana students the resources to succeed even under challenges they’ve never walked through before,” said U.S. Sen. John Kennedy.

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According to the Louisiana Department of Education, every school system in the state is providing some form of distance education to students kept home by the pandemic, but there are wide discrepancies in what schools are able to offer. School campuses have been closed since mid-March.

Interim State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux says systems “need additional support related to technology access for students; services for students with disabilities; and professional development for teachers to successfully provide continuous education using high-quality and standards-aligned curricula.”

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is in the process of hiring a new superintendent to replace John White, who left the position in March after eight years on the job. Friday is the last day for the public to complete an online survey about that process. Video interviews with each candidate can be watched at the same site. 

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By David Jacobs of the Center Square

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