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State's Department Of Education Working On Plans For Federal Aid

Logo of the Wyoming Department of Education with the state seal
Wyoming Department of Education

The state of Wyoming will receive nearly $304 million to go towards education as part of COVID-19 relief funds.

This is the third and the largest round of federal funds, said State Superintendent Jillian Balow.

The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) recently submitted its plan on how that money will be used.

Balow said the goal of the funds is to address gaps in education made by the pandemic. The department has two priorities with the funds: one is to bolster the goals of individual school districts.

"Number two [is] to tie community services more closely to schools," she said. "So that includes mental health services and includes after school programs and includes community resources, that not every community across Wyoming has, but that are really important in some communities."

Balow said an important part of the funding is supporting after school and summer programs.

"This is an opportunity to really transform education outside of COVID-19 and to incorporate summer learning programs after school learning programs and community programs into the education system," she said.

She said the department is hoping to maximize chances for school districts to decide how to use the federal aid they’ll receive.

Since Wyoming schools were mostly in person this past year, the state is in a different position than others, Balow said.

"We're in a better place because our kids have a year of school under their belts that lots of kids across the nation don't," she said. "But we're in a different, not necessarily better place in this opportunity that we have to really transform education and fill gaps, fill learning gaps for all students, regardless of the challenges."

The state has until 2024 to spend the federal aid, which Balow added will give them more time to consider the best ways to spend it.

Corrected: June 16, 2021 at 2:31 PM MDT
This story has been updated. The state is receiving more than $303 million dollars from the federal government, not $3 million.
Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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