Montana Public Radio

Betsy DeVos

Lockers in an empty school hallway.
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Public school students in Montana may miss out on roughly $800,000 in federal aid for laptops, masks and educational services amid the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a calculation from state education officials after the U.S. Department of Education’s plan for sharing emergency aid with private and home schools was thrown out in court.

Lockers in an empty school hallway.
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Montana public school districts will receive roughly $41 million of relief funding in about two weeks. Schools say they need that money for things like buying masks, special cleaning equipment and supplies so they can open in the fall. New guidance from the U.S. Department of Education says private school students will receive an increased share of that funding.

Montana Public Radio’s Aaron Bolton spoke with MTPR News Director Corin-Cates Carney to explain.

School hallway.
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The U.S. Department of Education has agreed to delay a new rule that could pull significant funding from rural and low-income schools in Montana. The delay follows objections this week from Montana’s U.S. Senators and other high ranking members of Congress.

Sen. Jon Tester
U.S. Senate

The U.S. Department of Education will now reconsider the University of Montana’s grant application for a low-income college prep program.

UM’s application for Upward Bound requested just under $2 million to fund the program for 75 students from this year through 2022. But it was rejected because of a technicality; one page was single-spaced, instead of double-spaced.

Montana's Republican Senator Steve Daines held what he called a “tele-town hall meeting” Wednesday night. His political opponents have been strongly criticizing him for not holding any face to face meetings where he takes questions from the public.

Senator Daines says telephone conference calls like last night's allow him to interact with more Montanans because people don't have to travel to participate in them. He said that 10,000 to 25,000 people typically participate in his calls.

Last week, both of Montana’s senators held virtual town-hall meetings to connect with constituents. Questions ranged from Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, to the Affordable Care Act and Russia.

Sen. Daines shuts down Sen. Warren and votes to confirm Betsy DeVos. Will the special congressional election be a mail-only affair? A death penalty repeal bill narrowly fails at the Montana Legislature. Join MTPR's Sally Mauk and UM Political Science Professor Rob Saldin for analysis of these stories on "Capitol Talk," your weekly legislative analysis program.

Betsy DeVos eked out enough votes to become the next Education Secretary this morning. Montana’s Senators in Washington have mixed reactions to her confirmation.