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EDUCATION NOTEBOOK: $22.8M available for private schools | New ed secretary recognizes resolve | State ranks 4th in in-person learning

by Cynthia Howell | March 7, 2021 at 8:17 a.m.

$22.8M available for private schools

Eligible private elementary and secondary schools in Arkansas are entitled to a share of $22.8 million from the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools Program, the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Friday.

The money is made possible by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed by federal lawmakers in late 2020.

The state education division will host a webinar at 10 a.m. Friday on the funding. All non-public schools can participate by joining the Zoom link at

The webinar will be recorded and posted on the state Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Cares Act webpage:

To be eligible for funding, a school must meet several requirements. For example, it must be a nonprofit school; must have existed before March 13, 2020; and must be accredited, licensed or otherwise approved to operate in accordance with state law.

The state agency will determine the list of eligible non-public schools and post the allocations to the schools on the agency website.

The money can be used by the non-public schools for a long list of purposes, including sanitizing supplies, personal protection equipment, educational technology and ventilation systems such as windows or acquiring portable air purification systems.

Requests for assistance can be directed to Elizabeth.Gomez@ade.arkansas.go or Bobby Lester

New ed secretary recognizes resolve

Miguel Cardona was confirmed Monday by the U.S. Senate as the nation's 12th secretary of education, and has since distributed letters and videos in which he acknowledges the pandemic-fueled challenges of the school year and thanks those who have persevered.

"Our nation's students deserve -- and they will get -- our very best efforts, our most collaborative thinking, and our deepest belief in their abilities," he said in a letter. "Together, we can build a future of promise and opportunity that makes no exceptions."

"We don't have a second to waste," Cardona also said in a video clip that was filmed in the fourth-grade classroom where he, as the first college graduate in his family, once taught.

"We need to respect the teaching profession for what it is -- the foundation of all other opportunities," he said.

Cardona, selected for the position by President Joe Biden, is a former teacher, principal, district administrator and commissioner of education in Connecticut.

State ranks 4th in in-person learning

The American Enterprise Institute organization ranks Arkansas fourth in the nation in terms of students receiving in-person instruction.

That was 78% as of Feb. 22.

Florida was the highest at 96%.

In contrast, New Mexico and North Carolina were at 3%.

Charter subgrants filing period open

The Arkansas Public School Resource Center is accepting applications through May 14 from open-enrollment charter schools for expansion subgrants funded by the U.S. Department of Education Charter Schools Program.

In September 2018, the Arkansas Public School Resource Center received a $23 million grant to support the expansion of open-enrollment and district-conversion charter schools throughout the state. The organization was awarded an additional $19.5 million in supplemental funding in September 2019 to bring the total award amount to $42.5 million.

With the grant, the organization can provide subgrants over a five-year period to new open-enrollment charter schools; new district-conversion charter schools; and existing, high-quality, open-enrollment charter schools that intend to expand.

An informational webinar will be at 1 p.m. Monday , and a budget workshop will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Both are required sessions for schools applying for the 2021 Arkansas Public School Resource Center Charter Schools Program Expansion Subgrants.

More information is available by contacting JoAnna Lever, director of charter development, (501) 492-4300, or


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