PHOENIX — Arizona leaders approved a plan on Wednesday to make $270 million available for schools to make remote learning upgrades as districts make plans for the upcoming school year in the midst of a pandemic.
Gov. Doug Ducey and state superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced the plan to help schools across the state provide learning options for students.
Arizona’s largest school district, Mesa Public Schools, unveiled plans last week to give families a variety of options including a return to classrooms, remote lessons or a combination plan.
The state hopes the funds will allow schools across the state to offer similar options for students as Arizona sees a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“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.
Hoffman ordered that schools across Arizona be closed in March as the crisis worsened and the World Health Organization declared a pandemic.
However, some district leaders say they intend to reopen classrooms for the 2020-21 year with precautions, such as a mask requirement.
The funds will be divided as follows:
- $200 million to increase funding for remote learning and to protect schools against budget shortfalls due to declining enrollment;
- $40 million to expand broadband in rural communities to bridge the digital divide;
- $20 million to bring in extra support for high-need schools;
- $6 million for the Arizona Teachers Academy to assist with the teacher shortage;
- $1 million in microgrants to support innovative programs to continue educating Arizona
- $1 million for vehicles for the Arizona School For The Deaf And Blind;
- $700,000 for leadership development through Beat The Odds Leadership Academy; and
- $500,000 for tutoring from Teach For America
On top of that, the Arizona Department of Education says it will provide more than $25 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help schools.
The governor’s office says a total of $850 million in state and federal funding has been made available for schools since the outbreak began.
Read the governor's executive order below.