Iowa schools will split $71.6 million in new federal funding, to help cover costs related to the pandemic.
Iowa Department of Education director Ann Lebo says schools may start applying for the grants today.
“Every one of Iowa’s 327 school districts will receive an allocation of these funds to address COVID-19 related needs at their schools,” she says, “including online learning support, professional development, educational technology, mental health services and services to support students with disabilities.”
Schools have until the close of business Monday to complete the online application. Lebo and her staff led a virtual meeting early this afternoon to explain the process to school administrators.
“Ninety percent of the $71.6 million will go directly to (public) school districts, which will use a portion of the funds to support non-public schools in their areas,” Lebo says. “The remaining funds will be used for state-level educational efforts to address urgent issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In mid-March, Governor Kim Reynolds recommended that schools close. In April, she ordered schools to stay closed. School officials had to send the state their plans for how to educate students for the rest of the academic year.
“In a short turn-around and with little time to prepare, they have engaged with students and families while simultaneously working to navigate this new learning environment we find ourselves in,” Lebo says.
The federal grants may be used to cover things like digital devices and WiFi services that schools scrambled to acquire this spring.
“Districts can expect to receive their allocations on May 13th,” Lebo says. “The spending window for these funds is retroactive, going back to March 13, 2020. Districts have to use the funds by September 30, 2022.”
More than 554,000 preschool through 12th-grade students are enrolled in Iowa schools. Administrators have until July to submit “Ready to Learn” plans for the next school year. The governor has waived the state law that has prevented schools from starting before the 23rd of August, allowing schools to resume classes anytime in the month of August.