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Schools receive more funds to assist displaced students

Area school districts recently received approximately $265,250of nearly $40 million in third quarter grant funds as part offederal Hurricane Katrina recovery monies.

The funds are used in a variety of ways by districts to helpoffset the costs of the influx of students following the evacuationof the Gulf Coast after the storm, said Brookhaven School DistrictSuperintendent Lea Barrett.

Many school districts are still instructing students from thecoast because they either cannot return home or their parents haveelected to permanently reside where the family sought refuge. Ineither situation, districts were not prepared for the demands theevacuation placed on them, which stretched resources to thebreaking point, Barrett said.

The federal programs are designed to help alleviate thosedemands and equip the districts to slip those students into theMississippi curriculum, which may vary greatly from the courseloadthey had at their previous school, she said.

At $159,500, the Brookhaven School District received the largestshare of that funding in the area. The district has taken in atotal of $348,750 in second and third quarter funding.

The Emergency Impact Aid for Displaced Students has severalcomponents, including providing a fixed amount for each displacedstudent. Each displaced student now attending Brookhaven will befunded at $1,500 per quarter under the grant.

The funds will be used to help both students and the districtovercome obstacles caused by the displacement by providing avariety of options to districts, Barrett said. The money can beused for counseling services to aid students psychologically withthe trauma of the disaster, textbook replacement, school supplies,teacher salaries and other needs.

The Lincoln County School District has been allocated $71,750when second and third quarter emergency funding is combined. Thedistrict was given $40,250 in the second quarter and $31,500 forthe third quarter.

“We were really able to absorb those students into our regularclassrooms,” said Cheryl Shelby, the district’s business manager.”We have not drawn that money down and have not received thatmoney.”

The district has not decided how, or even if, it will use thefunding.

“It’s money that’s available, but we’re uncertain about how itwill be used in the district,” she said.

A second option, Shelby said, would be to decline the funding soit could be reallocated to districts more affected by the stormshould Lincoln County not need it.

Lawrence County has been given $115,750 altogether when itssecond quarter grant of $60,500 is combined with third quartermonies of $55,250.

Franklin County has received a total of $48,000 in emergencyfunds. It received $29,000 during the first round and $19,000 inthe latest round of funding.