State Superintendent Speaks On New Stimulus Funds That Are Vital To School Districts

Friday, January 8th 2021, 9:20 pm

Next week, new stimulus money will be given to Green Country school districts and officials say the money is vital to get kids back on track after a rough year in education.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the state will be overseeing every dollar spent by schools, but they also want districts to have a lot of freedom in how they spend it.

Oklahoma will soon have $665 million from the recent stimulus package to give to districts across the state.

"The needs are great with education and with our families," Hofmeister said.

Hofmeister said the money is divided based on the district's economic need. Each district should get four times as much money as they did last year and Hofmeister said the state will provide recommendations on how to spend it wisely.

"We want them to have data on how to allocate funds to have a high impact for students," Hofmeister said.

Hofmeister said some of her biggest concerns are internet access for students, emotional and mental issues from COVID-19, learning loss and delay, teacher burnout and more.

Districts can use the stimulus money for everything from teacher hazard pay, to after school help, and even repairs to stop the virus from spreading. Districts must submit a plan to the state before they can be reimbursed.

"They will share that plan with us," Hofmeister said. "It is approved by the Department of Education and those dollars are reimbursed to the district and every penny is accounted for."

It's mandated that at least 90 percent of the money must go straight to schools, and Hofmeister said whatever money is left over, will be used where it's needed the most.

"This will be complicated, and it is something districts will need to do in a very individualized way," she said.

Hofmeister said because districts have until 2023 to spend this new money, they can continue to submit their plans to the state and be reimbursed as new problems arise in the future.

Estimated funding for each district can be found here.