Funding Approved for Statewide Training in Technology for Educators

Through the CARES Act, Congress allocated funds to local school districts and to state education agencies to provide support in covering emergency COVID-19 costs.

OLYMPIA — July 30, 2020 — During last spring’s rapid transition to remote learning, school districts worked tirelessly to provide students with a continuity of learning, meals, and other supports.

Superintendent Chris Reykdal

One of the primary challenges experienced by students, families, and educators during that time centered on online learning: navigating the platforms; honing in on a single platform for consistent, district-wide use; and implementing best practices in an online learning environment.

To better prepare our educators for the potential of more remote learning in the 2020–21 school year, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has remained committed to spending a portion of federal emergency funds on professional development for educators on the use of learning management systems.

This week, the state Office of Financial Management (OFM) released $2.5 million in federal funds to OSPI for this purpose. In partnership with OSPI, the state’s nine regional educational service districts (ESDs), also known as the Association of ESDs (AESD) will provide support and training with no registration costs. These supports will help districts with platform selection, provide training for educators and families, and will launch networks for educators to share best practices.

“Last spring, we heard consistently from educators that they needed more training on how to effectively use online learning management systems,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “We also heard from students, parents, and guardians that they were overwhelmed by the variety of systems educators were using to provide online learning.”

“To make online learning more effective this fall, we have to streamline this,” Reykdal continued. “Students and parents should be able to focus on learning, and educators should be focused on teaching, without the modality of the instruction getting in the way. Our ESDs will provide educators with training in a handful of learning management systems consistent with guidance we have already sent to districts to simplify their remote learning managements systems for families.”

In total, Congress allocated approximately $195 million to Washington’s local school districts and $21 million to OSPI to address impacts resulting from COVID-19. While all funds have been released to local school districts, OFM has held back the vast majority of the funds allocated to OSPI; this $2.5 million for professional learning represents the first major step in scalable statewide solutions to improve the online learning experience.

As OFM considers a release of the remainder of the state’s portion of the funds, OSPI intends to cover the costs of internet for students eligible for free or reduced-price meals and to partner with community-based organizations to help families secure childcare, engage in language translation services, and other parent and family engagement strategies.

“The funds provided by Congress for state education agencies were intended for statewide coordination, statewide strategies, and statewide scale in purchasing and training,” Reykdal said. “I encourage OFM and the Legislature to release the remainder of the funds so we are able to provide additional and necessary supports for students, families, and schools as we prepare for perhaps the most complicated school year in American history.

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The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Led by Supt. Chris Reykdal, OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state.

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