$13.3 Million Awarded to Build Capacity Rural Schools - AZEdNews
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$13.3 Million Awarded to Build Capacity Rural Schools

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  • Jimmy Arwood   |   Arizona Department of Education

Tombstone High School In Tombstone, Arizona. Photo By Charity Bidegain/Cronkite News

Federal COVID relief funding will assist two organizations focused on capacity building, particularly in rural schools

PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 31, 2022) – The Arizona Department of Education today announced targeted funding to build capacity in schools across the state, with a particular focus on rural schools. “Our schools have felt the impact of funding shortages, which often means rural schools have struggled to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. “Our rural schools need special attention when it comes to addressing this crisis, and my administration is committed to ensuring that all students have the resources and support they need to succeed.”

The funding will support:

  • ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College will receive $7.3 million to systematically add capacity to Arizona’s educator workforce by intentionally bringing trained and supported Community Educators into schools statewide, with a particular focus on rural areas.
  • Arizona Student Opportunity Collaborative will receive $6 million to fill curricular gaps for students and schools in rural Arizona. AZSOC hires highly qualified educators already serving in rural schools to teach other rural students across the state. AZSOC is in its third full semester of operations and this grant will help the project serve more rural students across the state.

“This grant is exciting because it’s going to allow us to support school districts as they develop more robust ways to empower community members to complement the work of teachers,” said Carole Basile, Dean of Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “The goal of this work is to provide deeper, more personalized learning to students. This grant helps us do that by making it possible to train community members to meet specific learning needs in individual schools. Community educators help learners. They help professional teachers by relieving some of the burdens those teachers face by doing everything for everyone at once. And the structured participation of more adults in the education of children and youth strengthens communities.”

“We are humbled and delighted to receive such generous support,” said Glen Lineberry, Director of AZSOC. “Once deployed, this grant means every rural secondary student in Arizona will have access to the courses they need to graduate high school and gain full university experience. All classes are taught by highly qualified teachers and the list will soon include more than a dozen CTE programs, college and career planning, and a full social and emotional learning curriculum.”

Superintendent Hoffman has made supporting rural schools a top priority in her administration. In March 2021, the Department awarded $1.5 million to the Final Mile Project, aimed at creating sustainable long-term solutions to the digital divide for rural families.

These projects are funded with dollars from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and are part of Arizona’s ARP School and Community Grantees. All funded projects share the goal of supporting schools, students, educators, and families as they recover from the effects of the pandemic.