The federal government is poised to pay $20 million to a school supply company to supply more than 2,000 classrooms with supplies for the 2017-2018 school year.
The deal is the latest in a series of deals between the Department of Education and school supply companies, which include a $1.2 billion package to help schools improve access to laptops and other gadgets, and a $300 million deal to upgrade school uniforms and other supplies.
But the package is the first federal effort to provide school supplies directly to students in the U.S. It is the largest such investment for a single-use item in a single year since the government began paying for school supplies in 2007.
The federal education department said in a statement that it will spend $4.5 billion on school supplies this school year, bringing the total value of the program to $20 billion.
The agreement was announced Thursday by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Deputy Secretary for National Economic and Social Council Mark Green.
“The Department of Justice is committed to helping the American people have access to safe, high-quality, and affordable school supplies,” DeVos said in the statement.
The department said it will begin buying school supplies on April 25, 2018, and work with companies to develop and implement the program.
The government will reimburse the schools for the cost of the materials, but the department will not provide any financial support for the school supplies.
The administration is expected to spend $400 million to purchase about 7,600 school supplies for schools.
DeVos, who previously announced the $4 billion buy-in for school supply manufacturers, has been criticized for the lack of a long-term strategy to ensure that the funds are used effectively and effectively.
She also has faced criticism for spending billions of dollars on school-related equipment that schools and teachers have said is unnecessary and wasteful.
The U.K.-based company that made the school supply deal, Fiducial, will receive a total of $3.5 million for its work on the school-supply program.