$1.1 Billion Now Available for Hurricane-Affected Students, Schools
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding Donald Powell today announced the availability of more than $1.1 billion in hurricane relief funds to help states meet the education needs of displaced students and also restart school operations in the Gulf Coast region.
The funding, part of the Hurricane Education Recovery Act, includes $645 million in emergency aid to help cover the education costs of displaced students in 49 states and the District of Columbia, and more than $496 million to help the states most severely damaged reopen schools under the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations Program.
“We wanted to get the funds into states’ hands as quickly as possible, so we accelerated the application process,” Secretary Spellings said. “To ensure the fairest awards possible, we worked closely with states on the Gulf Coast and across the nation to get accurate data on displaced students and closed schools. In addition to student and school data, we reviewed information on the impacts of the hurricanes, including data on state and local taxes, housing and property losses and insurance claims, and we consulted experts at the federal, state and local levels.
The Hurricane Education Recovery Act provides $645 million in emergency impact aid to help local school districts pay for the hurricane-displaced students they enrolled in public and nonpublic schools during the 2005-2006 school year. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia will receive funding under this emergency, one-time program. Funds may be used to hire teachers; provide books and other classroom supplies; offer in-school or outside supplemental services such as tutoring, mentoring and counseling; and cover transportation and health costs.
Today’s announcement immediately provides states with $120 million in emergency impact aid funds to reimburse the education costs of displaced students for the first quarter of the 2005-06 school year. The remainder of the $645 million will be provided in three payments before July 31. The funding formula is based on the number of displaced students that states reported for the first quarter. A total of 157,743 students nationwide are eligible for this first quarter funding.
For the first quarter, applicants will receive $750 in initial payments for each student they took in with no disabilities and $937.50 for each student with disabilities. Once the Department has received data for all four quarters, increases to these amounts may be made based upon the final number of eligible students for the year.
“We’re balancing the immediate need for aid with the need to be fair to all schools that have taken in students,” Secretary Spellings said. “Our funding formula is based upon a conservative starting point, and it’s important to note that increases may be made once complete data is available.”
Secretary Spellings and Chairman Powell also announced that more than $496 million is immediately available to restart school operations in the states whose education communities were most severely damaged. The funds are the remainder of the $750 million Congress provided for the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations program; to get much-needed funds to the Gulf Coast region as quickly as possible, Secretary Spellings announced $253 million in immediate funding to these four states within days of the president signing the bill into law in December.
Louisiana will receive $345.6 million, Mississippi will receive $122.5 million and Texas will receive $28.2 million to aid their efforts to restart schools. The states will use the funds to help local school districts and nonpublic schools defray expenses related to the reopening of, restart of operations in, and the reenrollment of students in elementary and secondary schools that serve the areas affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
More information on the Hurricane Education Recovery Act can be found at http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/051230.html.
The Hurricane Help for Schools Fact Sheet can be found at http://hurricanehelpforschools.gov/030206-factsheet.html
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