Arizona allocates $29.2M aimed at assisting local education recovery efforts
PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Education on Wednesday announced it has allocated $29.2 million in federal funding aimed at assisting local education recovery efforts.
The funding — provided through the American Rescue Plan — will be disbursed among eight organizations across the state to address the impacts of the pandemic, according to a press release.
“We know that creative solutions to big problems often come from local leaders closest to the issues, ” Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said in the release.
“Our investments give these leaders the support they need to address student needs at the local level.”
The largest allocation of $9.9 million will go to the Maricopa County School Superintendent’s Office to support a learning acceleration project and equipping school leaders and teachers with skills to make sure all students can engage in grade-level learning.
The department set aside $5.9 million for the Invest in Our Youth project overseen by the Santa Cruz County Education Services Agency, while $4.8 million will go to the Coconino County Education Services Agency to equip teachers and schools with the skillset to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another $2 million went to Chicanos Por La Causa to offer a larger amount of mental, behavioral and physical health support to students, and approximately $1.3 million went to the city of Tempe Human Services Department to provide support services for career and college readiness.
Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday that though there are federal requirements schools must follow, funds are relatively flexible to spend. Some organizations choose to use the money for retention and hiring, to enhance broadband internet, STEM programs or teacher professional development.
All data on the impact of the programs will be tracked so officials can potentially apply similar successful programs across schools in the state, she said.
“There is a data reporting requirement and so I think it’ll be really exciting for us to track that at the state level and then be able to have evidence of which programs had the biggest impact and would be worthwhile of a future investment from the state,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman called on the state legislature to utilize state funds to supply the need public schools require to retain and hire competitive teachers to ensure students have high-quality teachers.
“We know that in Arizona the state legislature has historically underfunded our schools, and our teacher pay continues to be the lowest in the nation, which is, to me, such an embarassment,” Hoffman said.