Why 80 Chromebooks approved by Joplin School Board aren’t for the Joplin School District

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin School District approves buying 80 Chromebooks using cares funding. However, the purchase, isn’t for the district, specifically.

College Heights Christian School is a private, religious school in Joplin. It falls within the Joplin School District’s attendance boundary and it is the recipient of the 80 Chromebooks approved by the school board. Joplin Schools Executive Director of Student Services Sandra Cantwell says it’s because the private schools, or non-public schools, don’t receive the funding directly from the Federal government. “There are Federal grants that we get every year and off the top of that, the non-public’s get their proportionate share through services or supplies or goods.”

Because the funding is handled by the public school, in this case, Joplin schools, anything the non-public schools need, has to go through Joplin. “So all orders go through the public school, they don’t get any money, there’s just a set aside for them and then they send all of their orders to us and we process them just like we would process an order for the district.”

College Heights Superintendent Dan Decker says it’s not unlike state money they get. “It’s the same thing with Title money which is money to help students in the educational process, Joplin gets a certain amount and then they have to divide that up, a certain amount, amongst private schools within their attendance area.”

Cantwell says only items over a certain amount have to go through the Joplin School Board for approval. Most requests for lower dollar items, like hand sanitizer or cleaning supplies, don’t require board approval. Decker says there are still many people who are unaware of the required partnership. “I think so because most people in the public realm, they just automatically assume that it’s completely separate and with many things it is, but with federal monies it’s not.”

Officials say there are stipulations for the funding, especially if it goes to a religious school. In some cases, whatever is being provided through Joplin, must be in a room that has no religious icons or decor of any kind.