ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — More than $45.6 million is set to be committed in additional education funding for Maryland students affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Larry Hogan announced Wednesday.
The funding will go to K-12 technology improvements, community college workforce development programs, rural broadband initiatives, and other priorities in every jurisdiction in Maryland- particularly those most affected by the pandemic, the state said in a release.
“I believe very strongly that every single child in Maryland deserves access to a world-class education, regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” said Governor Hogan. “That is true now, more than ever, and especially for those students significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While many states have already seen significant cuts and layoffs, in Maryland, we are committed to doing everything possible to level-fund education. We will continue to maximize federal resources in order to provide critical funding for the students and communities that need help the most.”
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$10 million will go to K-12 technology funding. Another $10 million will go to community college workforce development programs to expand existing training and educational programs for post-COVID-19, and market these programs to employers and prospective students, including recently unemployed Marylanders.
Another $10 million will go to competitive innovation grants for educational institutions that “present a unique or innovative approach to engage students, teachers, and school communities while working to address academic accessibility as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” and priority will be given to programs that address at-risk students.
The Governor’s Office of rural broadband will construct a wireless education service for students’ use in Western Maryland, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, in areas that currently don’t have broadband service. The state said it is proposing a wireless, Long-Term Evolution network using frequency provided by the FCC for educational purposes or available unlicensed frequencies.
Another $5 million will go to students in urban centers where access to the internet isn’t as available for underprivileged populations.
The state said it plans to use a “phased, targeted approach” to ensure those who lack access will be connected first.
For the Maryland School for the Blind and the Maryland School for the Deaf, the state department of education will provide grants in total of $657,990 to help with remote learning for staff and students. The funds can be used to buy devices, including assistive technology and adaptive equipment for staff and students.