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Louisiana to dedicate $50 million in new federal education dollars largely to technology and workforce development

(The Center Square) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ plans for $50.3 million in new federal education dollars primarily focus on technology and workforce development, his office said.

Under the federal CARES Act, Louisiana received the money to establish the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, meant to help education entities deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governors had discretion to decide how to divvy up the funds.

The Louisiana Department of Education will get $35 million while the Board of Regents, which oversees higher education, will get $15.3 million.

The bulk of the money for K-12 education – $32.3 million – will go toward internet connectivity and devices. The rest will go toward a “social and emotional learning” curriculum, which Edwards says will help students adjust to new learning environments.

Edwards ordered schools to close in mid-March as part of the effort to control the spread of COVID-19. Schools and school districts are preparing plans for a partial or full reopening next month, though as cases rise nationwide and in Louisiana the public health picture remains unclear.

The governor said he consulted education leaders and legislators about the greatest needs and said personal education devices and connectivity emerged as critical.

“This will further our efforts to ensure every Louisiana student has the technology they need to be successful,” Education Superintendent Cade Brumley said.

Edwards is allocating $10 million to community and technical colleges for scholarships for students seeking high-demand short-term workforce credentials. Another $4.5 million will go toward devices for postsecondary students.

He directed $500,000 to continue student, faculty and staff training efforts to ensure a smooth transition from face-to-face instruction to a hybrid model of learning, and $250,000 to create a statewide dual enrollment portal to support outreach and engagement to high school students.

“Training residents for today’s in-demand jobs is critical and our community colleges are ready to deliver,” Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed said. “Supporting the faculty training and student devices needed for postsecondary remote learning at scale sends a message that we recognize that these are required tools for student success.”

David Jacobs, Staff Reporter for the Center Square, is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business, and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.