By Corinne Murdock
Governor Doug Ducey’s program offering up to $7,000 in grants for low-income K-12 parents wanting to relocate their students due to their current school’s COVID-19 protocols began Friday. Eligible families have a total household income at or below 350 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and show proof that their current school has COVID constraints, including: mask mandates, quarantines, vaccine mandates, or discrimination based on vaccination status. The grant funds may be used for a variety of education-related expenses beyond tuition like transportation, online tutoring, and even child care.
Ducey announced the $7,000 booster on Tuesday. The governor’s office cited Yale University research that found COVID-based school closures disproportionately harm low-income students. More affluent students reportedly didn’t exhibit any significant impairments.
“We are committed to keeping all Arizona kids on track, closing the achievement gap and equipping underserved students and families with the tools they need to thrive,” said Ducey. “Our COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit will empower parents to exercise their choice when it comes to their child’s education and COVID-19 mitigation strategies. It will also give families in need the opportunity to access educational resources like tutoring, child care, transportation and other needs. We know that historically disadvantaged communities bear the brunt of excessive and overbearing measures, and we want to ensure these students are protected.”
Parents interested in learning more about these grants can review or apply for the program here. Applicants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
These grants were just one of three plans increasing education funding that the governor introduced Tuesday.
Another plan that Ducey announced was $163 million in grant funding for district and charter schools that remain open all year. Ducey explained that the goal of this funding incentive is to increase funding to $1,800 per student.
The third plan Ducey issued offers up nearly $65 million to a variety of learning programs across all education levels: K-12 literacy, adult education, and teacher professional development. Like the plan offering up to $7,000 per student for low-income families, $3.5 million of these funds will help launch 50 new micro-schools: an alternative learning model to public and private schools for low-income families.
AZ Free News inquired with State Representative Michelle Udall (R-Mesa), the House Education Committee Chair, about this latest in education funds for parents. Udall didn’t respond by press time.