The U.S. Department of Education announced Monday it is awarding an additional $1.9 million to the Newtown Public School District to help it continue to recover from the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
But the money, from the Education Department’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) program and a $1.3 million grant the school district received in May, can’t be used to help build a new school to replace the recently demolished facility where 20 1st graders and six adults were killed.
Instead, the grant money can be used for counseling, additional security, tutoring and other purposes that would help students and school staff recover from the tragedy.
“We will do whatever we can to continue assisting and supporting the healing and recovery of Newtown,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “This additional grant will help students, teachers, families, school district and community move forward after such an unimaginable tragedy.”
It will cost the state about $50 million to build a new school to replace the torn down Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, introduced legislation last year that would change the restrictions on SERV grants so they could be used for site construction in the wake of mass tragedies, and allow for federal assistance to Sandy Hook Elementary School for its reconstruction project.
But, to date, the legislation has not moved forward. One stumbling block is that expansion of the SERV program to fund school construction would require additional appropriations during a time of austerity and budget-cutting in Congress.