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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #18-35
April 30, 2018
Contact: Robert Oakes
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Torlakson Announces Federal Emergency Grants for Schools Impacted by Wildfires

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) will receive $14.4 million in a federal emergency grant to help schools impacted by wildfires in 2017.

The California Department of Education will distribute the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations (K–12 Restart) program funding to Northern and Southern California schools that closed campuses because of wildfires, hazardous smoke, and evacuations. Texas and Puerto Rico received grants to help schools shut down by hurricanes.

“I want to thank the federal Department of Education for recognizing the need to help our schools recover from the terrible fires and thank educators for diligently pursuing the funding,” Torlakson said. “These grants are especially important for small districts in rural areas with limited staff and strained budgets.”

The K–12 Restart program helps public and private schools defray expenses restarting school and re-enrolling students in elementary and secondary schools that serve an area affected by a federally declared disaster or emergency. The federal government awards the grants to state education agencies, which then distribute the money to local school districts. The CDE has been working closely with affected California districts to make them aware of the funding and streamline the application process.

Schools can use the money to reimburse expenses for repairing fire damage, removing ash and debris, and paying for mandatory environmental cleanups in classrooms and school buildings closed because of smoke and dangerous air quality.

On the worst wildfire day in October 2017, Northern California blazes closed nearly 600 schools with about 260,000 total students. In December 2017, nearly 135,000 students were displaced as schools shut down and evacuations spread because of fires in Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange counties.

The federal news release can be found on this U.S. Department of Education External link opens in new window or tab. Web page.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, April 30, 2018
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