Feds approve Idaho’s K-12 spending plan

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s department recently approved Idaho’s plan to spend $440 million in federal coronavirus relief.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Monday that it has approved Idaho’s plan for spending some $440 million in federal coronavirus relief for K-12 public schools.

The approval will allow Idaho schools to access the final third of the money allocated to them through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) — about $146 million.

Idaho’s plan was turned away for revisions in July in part because it lacked engagement with some stakeholders and because it wasn’t specific enough in some areas to meet federal guidelines. It was then updated to match federal rules, resubmitted and approved. With the recent approval of plans from Idaho and three other states, 37 plans have gotten the nod from the feds, according to a news release.

The money was allocated to combat pandemic-caused learning loss and promote a safe return to in-person instruction.

“The plan will ensure that our schools and districts receive the funding they need to address unfinished learning, behavioral health challenges and other impacts from the pandemic,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said in the release. “Throughout this process, we’ve placed high priority on giving districts and schools both the resources and flexibility to address local needs, as well as assistance identifying and engaging the students most impacted by the pandemic so that we can get them back on track.”

Idaho’s plan includes pledges to focus on professional development and give extra help to students who fell most behind last school year, using methods such as frequent tutoring and having school staff intervene one-on-one.

“The board and the State Department are focused on three priorities: K-4 literacy, grades 5-9 math, and credit recovery for high school students,” State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich said in the release. “We look forward to working with school districts and charter schools as they work to develop their local plans and put them into action. These federal resources will go a long way in helping our students recover what they lost because of the massive disruption the pandemic caused to our education system.”

School districts and charter schools, which control how 90% of the money is spent, must post their own spending plans to their websites by Oct. 1.

(Find out how much money each district was allocated below).

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The State Board of Education controls the remaining portion of the money.

As of Aug. 26, only about 0.1% of the money now allocated to Idaho K-12 schools through ARP had been spent, according to State Department of Education numbers. But nearly all the money from the first round of federal coronavirus relief had been spent, and more than a third of the money from the second round had been spent.

Idaho schools got access to the first two-thirds of ARP relief on July 1.

About Blake Jones

Reporter Blake Jones covers the politics and policy of Idaho's K-12 public school system. He's a lifelong Idahoan, and holds degrees in Creative Writing and Political Economy from the College of Idaho. Follow Blake on Twitter @jonesblakej. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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