School Funding

Fund Iowa’s New IT Requirements


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Samantha Dahlby, NewBoCo

IT is becoming a priority in our schools more than ever. Fortunately, the state of Iowa is stepping in to help fund it.

A state law passed in 2020 requires all high schools in Iowa to offer computer education starting July of next year. All primary schools and colleges must follow suit by July 2023.

It’s a tall order, but $ 3.7 million in grants have been made available to help train teachers while this program is in place.

I strongly encourage districts to apply for this funding as soon as they have identified their needs and the programs that support them.

The $ 3.7 million does not come from taxpayers. Instead, it comes from the 2007 settlement of an antitrust class action lawsuit against Microsoft Corp.

In addition to the $ 3.7 million, up to an additional $ 300,000 will be spent to help districts and non-public schools develop local K-12 computer plans as required by law. ‘Status of 2020.

For us at NewBoCo, this is incredible news. As the designated provider of Code.org professional training programs in Iowa, our team’s primary goal is to bring IT into as many classrooms as possible.

NewBoCo has worked with more than 1,000 educators across the state since 2016.

Our Code.org was one of the training programs selected by Iowa for its $ 3.7 million funding. As a result, we are now ready to help any district that applies.

This is the simplest app I have ever seen in the state.

Applicants need only log in to iowagrants.gov and answer a few yes or no questions, and explain how the school will maintain the program once the grant has been paid. For all of our programs, it’s simple: there are no ongoing fees.

School districts and accredited non-public schools can apply to receive grants in each of the age groups (K-5, 6-8 and 9-12), up to a total of $ 30,000.

It’s a fantastic investment in a school’s faculty and students – and with these grants, it won’t cost them anything.

Applications are accepted from now or until funding expires in August 2022, whichever comes first.

It’s easy to explain why IT has become a priority in our schools. The role of computers continues to grow in the business world every year, which means understanding them is vital to our future workforce.

Yet even though students may not be interested in becoming software developers, they still benefit from the problem-solving skills that are practiced in computer science classes. Chances are, these skills can be applied to a number of situations in a student’s life.

That said, this new push for computing is a lot to ask of school districts in Iowa. Many of them are already at full capacity of what they can handle.

Trying to gain buy-in from teachers to participate in further professional development is a challenge.

Often the biggest concern of educators is the “do I have computer training or coding training to be successful?” The answer is a categorical no.

Most of the educators we have worked with do not have computer training.

We have worked with math and science teachers, but also English teachers, French teachers, Spanish teachers, physical education teachers, family and consumer science teachers, business teachers and more.

They just need to be willing to learn, participate in the program, and ask questions. The program is set up to support both teachers and students with no previous experience.

Also, our training brings together teachers in cohort, so that they work with colleagues who are in exactly the same situation.

Thus, they can let off steam, encourage each other and ask themselves questions.

I encourage parents to contact your school district administrators and ask them what their plan is to meet the new state requirements.

If the neighborhood already has a plan, so much the better! But if they’re still figuring out what to do, let them know that funding is available.

I am happy to answer any questions from parents or educators on how to apply and what to expect, as well as putting them in touch with other resources such as our Regional Education Agency partners. in their region.

It’s a high mountain that we all climb. But we can do it together.

Samantha Dahlby is Director of K-12 Education at NewBoCo at Cedar Rapids; [email protected].

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