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Eight flood-impacted districts get federal money

Two and a half months after northern Colorado got hit by historic floods, eight impacted school districts are getting a total of $522,000 to offset some of the surprise costs they’ve incurred since mid-September.

The districts — Boulder Valley, Weld 6, St. Vrain Valley, Thompson, Weldon Valley, Platte Valley, Weld 1 and Valley – will receive amounts ranging from $948 to $313,000 to reimburse them for transportation, counseling, school relocation, tutoring and other expenditures for students who were displaced from their homes or schools by the floods.

The funds, which will be available to districts starting Tuesday, come from a program called Project SERV , which stands for School Emergency Response to Violence. The grant program is meant to help school districts restore the learning environment after violence or disaster.

“The whole point is to try to reduce the burden on them,” said Trish Boland, who coordinated the grant distribution process for the Colorado Department of Education.

In Weld 6, which will receive about $119,000, the funds will pay for more counseling services and two additional homeless liaisons to work with the existing liaison to support students who were displaced by the floods. Theresa Meyers, the district’s director of communications, said the Project SERV money will be a great help.

“We are an incredibly low-funded district,” she said. “We’re digging into every revenue source we have to provide the services we must and want to provide to our homeless students.”

Normally, at this time of year, the district would have around 200 students designated as homeless, but because of the floods, the number is nearly 1,100, said Meyers. Under federal law, students qualify as homeless if they are doubled up with friends or relatives, living in hotels, shelters or unsanitary or unsafe residences.

Meyers said most district families displaced by the floods, many from mobile home parks, are not back in permanent housing because not much is available in the Greeley area. In fact, the district recently discovered one family living in a garage and another in a warehouse.

Some of the impacted districts may eventually get a second crack at the Project SERV pot because there is money left over from the federal government’s original $750,000 award to the state. Boland said the districts may be invited to modify their applications in January once they’ve determined what outstanding needs remain. She suspected some districts underestimated their true post-flood costs when they applied because they didn’t want to take more than their share.

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