US Dept of Ed Gives Cali $2 Million for Wildfire Relief

School districts affected by last year’s wildfire are now able to apply for $2 million in federal assistance.

The wildfires of October 2017 devastated schools in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma, and Yuba counties.

The federal assistance comes from a School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Project SERV funding may be used to reimburse Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) for select expenses incurred as they worked quickly to reopen their respective schools last year.

“Many of these districts suffered widespread school closures, massive displacement of students and staff, and devastating losses from these horrific fires,” said State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. “We are extremely grateful for the U.S. Department of Education’s support. These funds will assist in the ongoing recovery for these schools and help provide a continued sense of safety and security.”

Reimbursable expenses may include hiring substitute teachers and renting vans to transport students from temporary housing to alternative school sites. Project SERV funds also may be used to reimburse LEAs for targeted mental health assessments and services, and overtime for teachers, counselors, security officers, and other staff. Funds cannot be used for claims under insurance coverage or new construction or supplies.

"Hundreds of schools and thousands of students were impacted by the California wildfires," said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. "These resources will help ensure students, teachers and staff have access to the services they need as they continue to recover."

LEAs are awarded the funds after an application process that includes a one-page needs assessment submitted to the California Department of Education. The application deadline has passed for the October 2017 wildfires.

However, CDE is accepting Project SERV applications until March 30, 2018, for the December 2017 wildfires in Santa Barbara, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Ventura counties. More information can be found on the CDE Project SERV - Dec 2017 Incident grant funding website.