Montana’s public schools could receive about $41 million from the federal stimulus package Congress passed last week. Schools will have a lot of flexibility on how they can spend that money.
The Montana Office of Public Instruction says that emergency funding will be delivered through Title I, the federal program that provides dollars to schools with high percentages of children from low-income families.
OPI spokesperson Dylan Klapmeier explains that 90 percent of Montana’s roughly 400 school districts are eligible for Title I program funding.
"Almost every school will be seeing a bump in their Title I funding that they will be able to use with maximum flexibility. They don’t just have to use it for Title I services. They can transfer it to just about any of their budget lines."
Klapmeier expects the U.S. Department of Education will provide the state with an application to apply for the funding in the next week or so. While both OPI and the Department hope to expedite the process, it typically takes months for the money to reach schools.
Montana is also expected to receive an additional $8 million for both K-12 and higher education from the federal bill, which will be divvied up to schools by Gov. Steve Bullock. OPI says there are additional grant dollars from the Department of Education districts will be able to apply for directly.
It’s still unknown how much the speedy shift to remote and online learning will cost school districts statewide. If additional funding is needed, the state Legislature could hold a special session, but lawmakers are saying it’s still too early to determine if that’s necessary.