Education Committee Recommends COVID Relief for Co-ops and Families

Sep 17, 2020

Credit SDPB

State lawmakers are considering ways remaining CARES Act money could help education. They’re suggesting financial support for educational cooperatives and for families who chose to keep their children out of the classroom.

The joint education committee heard public comment before making its recommendations for the appropriations committee. Rob Monson with the School Administrators of South Dakota notes educational co-ops have been left out of funding relief so far.

“Many school districts rely on the ability for coops to provide them with the much needed special services they would not be able to afford financially on their own, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech pathology, and psychological services just to name a few,” Monson explains. 

He suggests funds on a per student basis.

“In having some cursory conversations with some co-op directors, the number of 20 to 25 dollars per student has been bantered back and forth.”

A rough estimate brings that to around $780,000.

The committee also heard public concerns over school district liability for COVID-related illnesses and the rising cost of PPE. Others discussed lack of internet access and other challenges for families who’ve kept students home.

Senator Wayne Steinhauer suggests including those families in education aid.

“Maybe as much as 500 dollars per family to families who’ve chosen to have their children have some form of alternate education, whether it’s online or not, to assist them," he says.

Steinhauer also suggests another $200 per student for school districts.

The rest of the committee agree to these recommendations and for financial help for educational cooperatives.

The Joint Committee on Appropriations meets later this month to consider recommendations from several legislative committees. The state has more than $200 million dollars in federal money left to distribute for COVID relief.