Montana Public Radio

School Administrators of Montana

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
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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. 

A girl with headphones on writing notes while looking at a computer.
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Montana schools are asking Gov. Steve Bullock to waive requirements under a new state cyber security law aimed at protecting student information as teachers scramble to move classes online.

School districts say they need more flexibility to move classes online amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, and that they’re currently limited by the 2019 Montana Pupil Online Personal Information Protection Act.