State officials allocate $31m in federal relief aid to schools, childcare facilities
BATON ROUGE- The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) this week approved nearly $31 million in federal relief funding for school systems and early childhood education communities to ensure a strong start for every child, birth through grade 12, as the state rebounds from a months-long closure caused by the spread of COVID-19.
School systems will receive $25 million of the funds and early childhood communities will receive $6 million.
These entities will use this money to implement plans aligned to the critical priorities identified by the Louisiana Department of Education.
The Department asked that the money be used to ensure schools provide students with the following three academic necessities:
-Every student's academic needs must be identified at the beginning of the year using a high-quality, standards-aligned diagnostic tool.
-There must be a plan for every student, including extra time and support for students with the greatest unfinished learning from the prior year.
-There must be clear next steps for every high school student and recent graduate, who will enter a new economy.
Additionally, the Department advised all school systems to have strong yet agile continuous education plans that provide standards-aligned instruction using high-quality curriculum during school facilities closures or modified operations, including provisions for:
-1:1 device and internet access, including assistive technology for students with disabilities;
-A strategic communications plan to connect with every student on a daily basis, provide weekly feedback on students' work, and communicate a family's role in supporting their child's continuous learning;
-Versatile delivery methods for instruction, related services, and professional development;
-Adaptive staffing models that optimize teaching talent and student support; and
-Flexible and opportunistic calendars and school schedules that maximize learning opportunities in a dynamic public health context.
School systems that agreed to these assurances were eligible for a share of the $25 million in targeted grant funding approved this week, and 178 school systems did so. The amount of each school system's share depends on its priorities and needs.
Similarly, child care facilities eligible for the funding must agree to use it to meet the following four goals:
-All child care centers must have the tools and resources they need to reopen safely and in accordance with Office of Public Health guidelines.
-Communities must sustain and/or increase access to opportunities for early childhood care and education in the near and long-term.
-Teachers must be prepared to lead classrooms and provide high-quality interactions for children every day.
-Families must be supported to re-enroll children in early childhood programs, or to provide quality care and education in their homes if programs are unable to reopen or remain open.
Early childhood communities were encouraged to submit plans aligned to these priorities in order to receive the federal COVID-19 Community Child Care Recovery Grants approved this week.
The grant amounts depend on the community's size and needs.
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