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Education board approves federal fund plan while cutting state budgets

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BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-The State Board of Education estimates between 28,000 and 45,000 Idaho students do not have access to a device or internet service.

The board has now approved a list of recommendations to help school districts prepare for “blended learning” instruction in the coming school year.   “Blended learning” would combine both in-person class work and remote options from home.

The board has $3.8 million in federal grant funding and other $30 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to help provide school districts and charter schools to purchase learning management systems, computers for teachers and students, adaptive learning technology, and to improve connectivity for students and training for teachers to deliver remote instruction.

“There’s not enough money to completely solve the problem but we are going to do the best we can,” said Board Member Kurt Liebich who co-chaired a committee that developed recommendations on coordinating efforts on the use of monies from the two funds. “Districts are going to have to prioritize what they need and it will have to be something we work towards, that we can’t completely solve the digital divide by the end of August when school starts.”  The funding will be administered by the State Department of Education.

In other action, the State Board approved Governor Brad Little’s plan for a 5% holdback in general funding for schools and charter schools. That will cut public school funding by $99 million.

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