BESE Board approves $31 million in relief funding for school systems and early childhood education communities

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – As the state rebounds from closures due to COVID-19, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) recently approved almost “$31 million in federal relief funding for school systems and early childhood education communities,” according to the Louisiana Department of Education.

The funding is meant to ensure a strong start for all children.

“Our schools will benefit greatly from this additional funding,” said State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. “I appreciate BESE’s action to quickly allocate these funds.”

The $31 million was made available through the CARES Act.

According to the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE), “$25 million is going to school systems and around $6 million is going to early childhood.”

These entities are tasked with using the money to implement plans that are prioritized by the Louisiana Department of Education.

LDE has made a “Strong Start 2020 Planning Guide” available for the next school year and it notes what operations must ensure:

  • Every student’s academic needs are identified at the beginning of the year using a high-quality, standards-aligned diagnostic tool.
  • There is a plan for every student, including extra time and support for students with the greatest unfinished learning from the prior year. 
  • There are clear next steps for every high school student and recent graduate, who will enter a new economy.

LDE also says that schools should have a plan in place if COVID-19 causes more closures down the road:

  • 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.

LDE also provided a “Strong Start 2020 Planning Guide” for early childhood communities which copies the plan for K-12 education.

The planning guide emphasizes how these entities must make sure that:

  • All child care centers have the tools and resources they need to reopen safely and in accordance with Office of Public Health guidelines. 
  • Communities sustain and/or increase access to opportunities for early childhood care and education in the near and long-term. 
  • Teachers are prepared to lead classrooms and provide high-quality interactions for children every day.
  • Families are 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.

Both K-12 and early childhood communities must agree and/or submit plans that agree with these priorities in order to get the federal COVID-19 Community Child Care Recovery Grants.

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