This story is excerpted from the MT Lowdown, a weekly newsletter digest containing original reporting and analysis published every Friday.
$54 million in federal funds from a 2020 COVID-19 relief package for Montana public schools remain to be used, and are set to expire Sept. 30. The funds are from the second of three such federal relief packages, which offered schools and the state Office of Public Instruction a combined $593 million to address issues raised by the pandemic. According to OPI, Montana school districts have so far used the money for myriad initiatives including tutoring, transportation, expanded career and technical education programs and the creation of outdoor learning spaces. State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen has routinely reminded teachers, parents and school administrators of the pending deadline since late last year. The third round of federal funding — $382 million, or more than half the overall total — similarly expires on Sept. 30, 2024. As of April 30, roughly 34% of those funds had been spent.
A lack of access to navigators in rural locales to help Medicaid enrollees keep their coverage or find other insurance if they’re no longer eligible could exacerbate the difficulties rural residents face.
Three intervenors joined the ongoing litigation over House Bill 562 this week, arguing that the currently blocked law is critical to their plans to open specialized choice schools in their communities.
PLUS: Former GOP lawmaker launches U.S. House bid