In this 2018 file photo, a sign is seen in an entryway at The Academy of Classical Christian Studies, an Oklahoma City private school (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch).

Oklahoma private schools have qualified for federal relief funds in several ways. 

Those include a tuition grant program created by Gov. Kevin Stitt, the Paycheck Protection Program, and a newly created federal program for non public schools. 

Stay in School Fund

One of the education relief programs Stitt created was the Stay in School Fund, using $10 million for tuition grants for returning private school students to remain in their schools. The fund gave out 1,893 awards averaging $5,132 each, according to a report by the governor’s office. 

Just over half (57%) of the recipients were considered low-income, with a family income of 185% of the federal poverty level or less. 

More than 15,000 students applied for tuition assistance, according to the governor’s office. The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics showed 31,500 Oklahoma students attended private school in 2017. 

The funds came from Stitt’s $39.9 million allocation under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, authorized by the CARES Act. The purpose of the fund is to provide emergency assistance to K-12, higher education and other education related entities for COVID-19.

Stitt has yet to announce plans for the $17.7 million he will receive from the second round of that federal funding through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools program

Under this program, created by Congress under that same act, Oklahoma qualified for nearly $31 million. State governors have to apply for it and Oklahoma has already been approved. The state Education Department will distribute the funds.

Schools applying for funds through the program must be: non-profit; accredited, licensed or otherwise legal; in existence prior to March 13, 2020; and have not/will not receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan after Dec 27, 2020. Schools that received a Paycheck Protection Program loan before that date are eligible, as are faith-based schools.

Private schools can apply for funding or reimbursement for many services and items related to COVID-19 including sanitizing supplies, physical barriers, personal protective equipment, technology and many other items. More information can be found on the U.S. Department of Education website.  

Paycheck Protection Program

This program was created in March to help small businesses and nonprofits keep staff employed during the COVID-19 crisis. Loans are partially or fully forgivable if businesses keep employee counts and wages stable.

Private schools, as well as charter schools, educating K-12 students received an estimated $6 billion through the program, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization focusing on fiscal policy. 

Traditional public schools are not eligible but instead received direct allocations through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund. Charter schools, owing to their quasi-public-private structure, qualified for both the Paycheck Protection Program and direct allocations.

Private Schools Receiving Federal Funds

The governor’s office provided Oklahoma Watch a list of the 97 schools and the number of funds disbursed to each through the Stay in School program, shown below.  We searched a database of Paycheck Protection Program recipients for all the schools in the Stay in School grant program and added those amounts in the right column.  In some instances, a related entity received the loan; for instance, a church that operates a private school. Those amounts are not reflected in the table. 

School NameLocationAmount AwardedPaycheck Protection Program loan
All Saints Catholic SchoolBroken Arrow$21,330
All Saints Catholic SchoolNorman$26,342
Altus Christian AcademyAltus$58,850$128,500
Antioch Christian AcademyMoore$47,621$32,900
Ardmore Adventist AcademyArdmore$3,750
Bishop John Carroll SchoolOklahoma City$121,539$220,449
Bishop Kelley High SchoolTulsa$323,950$1,341,000
Bishop McGuinness Catholic High SchoolOklahoma City$403,000$1,079,600
Boulevard Christian SchoolMuskogee$51,000
Cascia Hall Preparatory SchoolTulsa$71,500$1,227,555
Showing 1 to 10 of 98 entries

Jennifer Palmer has been a reporter with Oklahoma Watch since 2016 and covers education. Contact her at (405) 761-0093 or Follow her on Twitter @jpalmerOKC.

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