January 6, 2021
HELENA— Superintendent Arntzen announces that the Office of Public Instruction has secured federal support for the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) programs. The RLIS program’s financial assistance was scheduled to be phased out due to a change in the 2015 Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In anticipation of the recently passed federal funding bill, Superintendent Arntzen called on Montana‘s congressional delegation to secure the same funding eligibility levels for school districts who were qualified in 2019 for the next two years. The allocation granted to Montana’s eligible schools in the 2019-2020 school year totaled $758,707 and in the 2020-2021 school year totaled $763,057.
“Our schools are the heart of rural Montana. All students deserve every opportunity for success regardless of where they live. I am pleased our congressional delegation partnered with other rural states in putting our students first,” Superintendent Arntzen said. “Sadly our rural communities are often overlooked when it comes to the national stage and it continues to be my promise to listen to their voice and needs. I am proud that I was able to bring our precious taxpayer dollars back to Montana rural communities. This is an excellent example of the value of strong partnerships, which I have consistently worked to develop in serving our districts and children.”
There are two federally funded rural programs available to districts. Those districts that dual qualify for these federal funding programs can choose between the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) and Small Rural Student Achievement (SRSA) funding. The purpose of these programs is to provide rural districts with financial assistance for initiatives aimed at improving student achievement. This funding is non-competitive and school districts that qualify for funding-based poverty can submit their application for funding that is distributed to the Office of Public Instruction to deploy to eligible districts.
Montana also had 15 districts that qualified for funding in 2020 that were not previously funded with RLIS funds. All 15 districts chose SRSA rather than RLIS and so the continued federal funds that support student achievement for qualified districts remain stable for the next two years.
Sarah Swanson, 406-444-3160 (office) 406-475-2307(cell)
Chief of Staff