Key Policy Letters Signed by the Education Secretary or Deputy Secretary
December 30, 2005
Archived Information

December 30, 2005

Dear Chief State School Officers:

More Resources
Hurricane Education Recovery Act download files (PDF)

I am pleased to inform you that, today, President Bush signed into law the Hurricane Education Recovery Act. The legislation authorizes three new grant programs to assist school districts and schools in meeting the educational needs of students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and in helping schools that were closed as a result of the hurricanes to reopen as quickly and effectively as possible. This letter briefly describes each of these programs. More detailed guidance on the three programs and other key provisions of the legislation will be sent to you in the very near future. (For your convenience, I am enclosing a copy of the legislation.)

The new programs are as follows:

(1) Emergency Impact Aid for Displaced Students

Under this program, the Department will award emergency impact aid funding to State educational agencies (SEAs). SEAs will, in turn, provide assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) for the cost of educating students enrolled in public and non-public schools who were displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita during the school year 2005-2006.

Congress has appropriated $645 million for the Emergency Impact Aid program. The Department will make four quarterly payments to SEAs based on quarterly counts of displaced students enrolled in public and non-public schools. States will make payments to LEAs based on those counts.

To receive funding, eligible SEAs will need to provide, on an expedited basis as required by the statute, data and other application information that we will be requesting shortly. Based on this information, we will promptly make initial payments to SEAs.

(2) Assistance for Homeless Youth

This program will provide a separate source of funding to SEAs to address the needs of homeless students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. The Department will use data on displaced public school students collected under the Emergency Impact Aid program to make allocations under the Assistance for Homeless Youth program.

Congress has appropriated $5 million for this program. We will be making awards to SEAs in the near future. After receiving their allocations, SEAs will award subgrants to LEAs on the basis of demonstrated need. LEAs must use the funds awarded under this program to support activities that are allowable under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

(3) Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations

Under this program, the Department is authorized to award funds to the SEAs in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama. These SEAs, in turn, will provide assistance or services to LEAs and non-public schools to help defray expenses related to the restart of operations in, the reopening of, and the re-enrollment of students in, elementary and secondary schools that serve an area in which a major disaster has been declared related to Hurricanes Katrina or Rita.

Congress has appropriated $750 million for the Restart program. We know that States, LEAs, and non-public schools in the affected areas have incurred and continue to incur considerable expenses as they seek to reopen schools and are in urgent need of financial assistance. In order to help meet those needs, I am announcing today that the Department will immediately provide $100 million to Louisiana, $100 million to Mississippi, $50 million to Texas, and $3.75 million to Alabama under the Restart program. Consistent with the legislation, in determining the final, aggregate allocations, we will take into consideration the number of students who were enrolled, during the 2004-2005 school year, in elementary and secondary schools that were closed on September 12, 2005, as a result of Hurricane Katrina, or on October 7, 2005, as a result of Hurricane Rita, and other relevant factors.

We at the U.S. Department of Education are pleased to be able to provide these resources, and we are grateful for all you do on behalf of the children of our great country.

  Margaret Spellings



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Last Modified: 01/24/2006