Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced a $270 million plan to help K-12 schools open safely in the fall as they grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The bulk of the money, $200 million, will go toward remote learning and to protect schools from the loss of funding in their budgets due to declining enrollment. Another $40 million will be used to expand broadband technology in rural areas, and $20 million will be spent on unspecified “extra support for high-need schools,” according to a press release about the program.
“This plan provides schools with the flexibility to ensure Arizona students continue to receive a quality education—whether through distance learning or in the classroom, and provides parents with options that work best for their families,” Ducey said in the press statement.
In addition, the plan earmarks $6 million for the Arizona Teachers Academy, a program in which universities waive tuition for students who train to become teachers in this state. The plan also includes $1 million for vehicles for the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, $1 million for “microgrants to support innovative programs to continue educating Arizona students,” $700,000 for the Beat The Odds Leadership Academy training program for school principals, and $500,000 for Teach For America to provide tutoring to students.
Ducey and Hoffman also announced that schools will receive $25 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act.
In addition, Ducey issued an executive order on Wednesday “streamlining the purchasing process for schools to obtain PPE and other COVID-19 related needs, and providing flexibility to schools to offer virtual learning opportunities for families that don’t return to the classroom.”
Ducey and Hoffman temporarily K-12 schools in mid-March, and shut them down for the remainder of the school year several weeks later. Last month, the governor announced that schools will reopen in the fall for the start of the 2020-21 school year, with new physical distancing and other restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.