Federal funds to aid flood affected schools

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently announced that it would be providing over $25 million in federal assistance to the Texas Education Agency in order to aid recovery efforts in areas affected by flooding in the Rio Grande Valley, Southeast Texas and Houston.

According to a release from the agency, the $25,445,162 in funds were awarded under the department’s Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations program and are intended to help schools resume operations after a natural disaster.

“We know that full recovery from natural disasters, like the flooding experienced in Texas, can be a long and diffi cult process for everyone involved,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wrote in the release. “Through our various grant programs, we will continue to come alongside state and local leaders like Governor Abbott and Commissioner Morath to assist in their efforts to rebuild, recover and allow the learning process to continue for students and educators who may still be dealing with the trauma of these difficult events.”

Possible use of funds may include restoration of the learning environment, including minor repairs to classrooms, replacement of instructional materials and tutoring programs for students to make up for lost instructional time, the release stated.

“Texas continues to emerge stronger than ever as we rebuild from natural disasters that have affected our state over the last few years,” Governor Greg Abbott wrote in the release. “Our recovery efforts involve all aspects of our communities – including schools impacted by storms. We are committed to ensuring that every Texas child receives a quality education, and this $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will provide affected communities and their classrooms with the resources they need to be successful.”

According to the statement, grant amounts under the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations program are decided based on the impact data and estimated or actual recovery costs provided by applicants, as well as the number of applicants.

“We appreciate the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary DeVos for aiding districts in Southeast Texas, the greater Houston area, and the Rio Grande Valley as they recover from the effects of recent natural disasters,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “The communities and educators in those regions have quite literally weathered the storm, showing incredible resolve while ensuring that students continue to receive an excellent education, regardless of the circumstances. These grant funds further assist those efforts and will prove instrumental in helping schools and communities rebuild.”