Northeastern North Dakota schools to receive federal funds for pandemic response
The funds may be used to pay for such items as mental health support, technology and building ventilation improvements, State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said.
Area schools will receive some of a new $33.8 million federal aid package to cover costs related to the coronavirus pandemic, State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler has announced.
The Grand Forks public school district will receive $1.94 million.
The funds may be used to pay for such items as mental health support, technology and building ventilation improvements, according to Baesler.
The "resiliency grants” represent the latest installment of a school pandemic aid package that has totaled nearly $94 million to date, Baesler said in a news release. That sum includes $30.1 million that was distributed to schools in April, another $30 million endorsed by North Dakota lawmakers in September and the recent approval of another $33.8 million in school assistance.
Schools also may use the last two aid packages on a much broader range of needs, Baesler said. Originally, the $30 million September aid infusion was limited to school staffing expenses, such as salaries for increased custodial and public health needs.
The total aid, $94 million, distributed to schools by the state, “provides much-needed money for our teachers and into the classrooms, where it can do the most good,” Baesler said.
Funds may be used to offer mental health counseling for students and staff, professional development for pandemic-related issues, to upgrade technology infrastructure, which is needed to improve schools’ ability to offer distance learning, and to improve school ventilation systems to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The money still may be used for personnel costs.
Technology and mental health supports are the most important areas of concern among school administrators, according to Baesler.
“There has been higher-than-expected demand on streaming, hardware capacity, bandwidth and distance-learning curriculum. The ability to provide meaningful distance learning is crucial to our students’ education," she said.
Each school district, regardless of size, will receive at least $30,000 from the new $33.8 million aid package, she said, noting that each district will receive about $251 per student.
The North Dakota Legislature’s Budget Section approved a request last week to allow the state Department of Public Instruction to allocate the $33.8 million to schools, and to provide added spending flexibility for the $63.8 million sum. The Budget Section is an interim committee that includes legislative leaders and members of the state House and Senate appropriations committees.
In northeastern North Dakota, total funding allocations by school district are: Belcourt, $431,891; Bottineau, $192,069; Cavalier, $134,623; Central Valley, $76,675; Dakota Prairie, $99,502; Devils Lake, $441,926; Drayton, $74,166; Dunseith, $158,203; Edmore, $39,799; Emerado, $54,850; Fordville-Lankin, $39,548; Fort Totten, $78,682; Grafton, $243,496; Grand Forks, $1,937,050; Hatton Eielson, $77,428; Hillsboro, $152,183; Lakota, $72,912; Langdon Area, $134,623; Larimore, $126,093; Leeds, $61,874; Maddock, $61,372; Manvel, $74,166; May-Port, $156,698; Midway, $73,414; Minnewaukan, $93,232; Minto, $102,011; Mount Pleasant, $95,740; New Rockford-Sheyenne, $108,533; North Border, $111,293; North Star, $99,753; Northwood, $109,537; Oberon, $45,568; Park River Area, $133,870; Rolette, $67,644; St. John, $126,846; St. Thomas, $41,053; and Thompson, $173,255.