US gives $3.1M for Newtown school recovery

The school district is receiving more money for counseling and other services for parents, students and staff members

By Stephen Singer
Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Newtown school district, where a gunman shot and killed 20 grade school children and six educators, is receiving more money for counseling and other services for parents, students and staff members, according to federal and local officials.

The U.S. Department of Education announced nearly $3.2 million for Newtown schools for this school year and 2015-16. Following the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings, Newtown received $1.3 million for the 2012-13 school year and $1.9 million for the following year. The total, $6.4 million, is one of the largest grants from the Department of Education's School Emergency Response to Violence program, officials said Wednesday.

The money will be used to hire more counselors and social workers, Newtown schools Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. said on a conference call announcing the financial help.

"We are in a rebuilding mode and will be in a rebuilding mode for quite some time," he said. "It allows us to continue long-term recovery."

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a Connecticut Democrat whose district includes Newtown, said more than $15 million has been received from the Departments of Education and Justice. She called it an "unprecedented national response."

"The long-term needs are serious and real," she said.

The Department of Education said an assessment by the district shows a belief that school is unsafe "still pervades the community." Severe posttraumatic stress, anxiety, depression and grief continue to affect students' performances in and out of the classroom, the agency said in announcing the funding.

The grant will be used to offer services such as education about how trauma affects learning and behavior, trauma- and grief-focused counseling and therapy and resources for students, staff and families.

Erardi said Newtown and its board of education assessed the need for continued counseling. For example, half the students in the Sandy Hook Elementary School the day of the shootings have moved on to middle school, which now requires attention for possible counseling and other services, he said.

The gunman, Adam Lanza, fatally shot his mother at their Newtown home before going to the school and gunning down the children and adults. He then killed himself as police closed in.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press

Associated Press
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