DPI receives $18 million federal literacy grant

Nov 29, 2017

North Dakota Emergency Commission Meting 11/27/17.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s Department of Public Instruction has received an $18 million federal grant.

It’s under the “Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program.” The state's Emergency Commission -- made up of four Legislators, the Secretary of State and the Governor -- unanimously endorsed DPI receiving those funds.

"I would say, universally, in almost all school districts, a need is improving students' reading skills," DPI federal title program director Laurie Matzke told the Emergency Commission. "These funds would go a long way in helping some districts meet that goal."

Matzke said DPI started working on the grant during the summer -- and North Dakota was one of the states receiving the award.

"This will only be available to 20 to 25 North Dakota school districts," Matzke told the Commission. "A lot of the funds will be used for professional development -- training teachers and getting new strategies in place, coaching and things like that."

The Legislature's Budget Section still has to approve the acceptance of federal funds.

Although the Commission vote was unanimous, the two House members raised some concerns about what happens after the grant money runs out.

"We get into these things where the money goes away, and they ant us to continue the program," said House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo). "This is a huge number. I'm concerned that, if it goes away, they're not standing at the door, saying, 'We have to continue this.'"

State budget director Pam Sharp said the request comes with a stipulation that DPI won't seek state funds after the grant runs out.