Montana Public Radio

Kirk Miller

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.

Empty school classroom
iStock

The Governor’s Office and the Office of Public Instruction put out two separate plans earlier this month providing guidance to school districts as they try to hash out what K-12 education might look like in the fall. Districts say both plans are by and large the same, but lack some specifics.

Private school students could receive more educational services from public school districts as $41 million dollars in aid comes into Montana under the federal CARES Act. A technical change in how money flows into the state means public schools could increase the percentage of relief dollars going to non-public school students. 

Missoula's Hellgate High School
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Monday was the first day that public schools across Montana were required to have plans in place for how they will deliver online or remote education, as well as other services. MTPR’s Corin Cates-Carney spoke with reporter Aaron Bolton about classes moving forward as school buildings remain closed amid the novel coronavirus pandemic:

USGS

State budget cuts mean that ranchers, recreation businesses and conservationists who rely on accurate information about water in Montana are facing new challenges.