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Missouri House bill would budget $2B in pandemic-related school funding

by Gary Castor | February 10, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A budget plan advanced Wednesday in the Missouri House would budget about $2 billion in federal funding for K-12 schools struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of that money is slated to go directly to Missouri public schools, but Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith is pushing for $75 million to be doled out in grants of a maximum of $1,500 per family to reimburse extra education expenses related to the pandemic.

The grants would first be available to families that bring in at most 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or roughly $43,000 a year for a family of three.

Smith pitched the plan as a way for low-income families to help their children with tutoring and other programs to make up for learning delays caused by the pandemic.

"A tremendous consequence of the pandemic has been learning loss," Smith said. "So this would help hopefully catch some kids up across the state and provide relief for those families."

House Democrats were skeptical, questioning whether the money would be better spent on services such as after-school programming and raising concerns that the money would be doled out through a third-party vendor instead of the state education department.

The emergency budget plan also includes more money for the state's Medicaid health care after voters in 2020 expanded eligibility for the program.

Print Headline: House bill would budget $2B in pandemic-related school funding

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