Baesler: $28M Grant Will Strengthen ND Student Literacy

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Office 701-328-2247
Cell: 701-400-8557
Baesler: $28M Grant Will Strengthen ND Student Literacy

BISMARCK, N.D., Oct. 9, 2017 – State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said a $28.8 million federal grant will help strengthen reading, writing and comprehension skills for North Dakota students and preschoolers.

The Department of Public Instruction was recently notified it will receive a “Striving Readers” grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Almost all of the $28.8 million will be distributed to local schools and agencies over three years to benefit literacy programs that help young children and students in grades kindergarten through 12.

The grant’s terms say portions of the money must be set aside to help children from birth through age 5; students in kindergarten through the fifth grade; and students in middle and high school. Baesler said the grant will benefit students in classrooms across North Dakota.

Schools or agencies that serve greater numbers or percentages of disadvantaged young people will be given preference for grants. Disadvantaged young people include those in low-income families, infants and toddlers with developmental delays, children with disabilities, students who are not fluent in English, and children who are homeless or in foster care.

State data says American Indian students and students from low-income families often have achievement gaps in their literacy skills, and the federal grant assistance should help to close those gaps, Baesler said Monday.

Although the Department of Education has awarded the grant to the Department of Public Instruction, the NDDPI must take some procedural steps before districts may apply for grants. North Dakota law says the state Emergency Commission and the state Budget Section must give permission to distribute the money.  

The six-member Emergency Commission is made up of the governor, the secretary of state, the majority leaders of the North Dakota House and Senate, and the chairmen of the North Dakota House and Senate appropriations committees. The Budget Section has 42 members and includes both Republican and Democratic leaders in the North Dakota Legislature, and members of the House and Senate appropriations committees.

The Department of Public Instruction will provide additional notice and information once the money is available for grants to school districts, and will provide instructions on how to apply.