NW Washington Delegation Announces Grant for Arlington Schools to Help with Mudslide Costs

Jun 13, 2014 Issues: Education, Jobs Labor and the Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the federal delegation representing Snohomish County announced that the Arlington School District has received $9,090 through a federal Project SERV grant to help offset costs the district incurred after the State Route 530 mudslide in March.

The Project SERV grant will help the school district cover the costs of substitute teachers who stood in for classroom staff while they received counseling, as well as additional transportation costs such as extra bus service that the school district incurred as a result of damage to the roads.

Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and U.S. Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA-02) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) wrote a May 30 letter to the U.S. Department of Education supporting the district’s application for the grant.

“This grant goes a long way toward helping the Arlington School District deal with the challenges faced by staff and students after the March 22 tragedy,” the four delegation members said. “In the immediate aftermath of the landslide, the people of Arlington came together to provide whatever support necessary to keep schools running. This grant will help reimburse the district for the costs incurred during this unimaginable tragedy. We appreciate the vital assistance this grant provides to Arlington schools as students and staff work to recover as a community.”

Project SERV (School Emergency Response to Violence) grants, issued through the Department of Education, provide short- and long- term education-related services for local schools and institutions of higher education to help recover from a violent or traumatic event in which the learning environment has been disrupted.

Below is the text from the delegation’s May 30 letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Dear Secretary Duncan,

As you know, on March 22, the residents of our state experienced a horrible tragedy. Forty-three Washingtonians lost their lives when a landslide struck the town of Oso, and an entire neighborhood was destroyed. The slurry created by the landslide has made it difficult for search teams to fully explore the wreckage, leaving the community in a state of constant uncertainty. The area’s transit infrastructure has also been seriously damaged as State Highway 530, a crucial route through the isolated region, is covered with up to 70 feet of debris.

The landslide has presented considerable challenges for the local school districts of Darrington and Arlington. Oso children attended both districts and each has students among the missing or dead. These districts are rightfully very concerned about the long-term mental health impacts of the trauma experienced by their students, faculty, and staff.  Transportation is another significant problem, as seven Darrington teachers who reside in Arlington saw the slide wash away their only reasonable route to their work, while nine Darrington students enrolled in a part-time program at the Sno-Isle Skills Center in Everett are now struggling to attend class.

In response to this tragedy, we would like to offer our strong support for the Project SERV grant applications submitted by the Darrington and Arlington School Districts. We believe these flexible funding streams will offer vital assistance to the districts in stabilizing their school learning environments, and helping their students and communities recover in the aftermath of the landslide. Establishing a sense of normalcy for the students in these communities must be a priority during this difficult time.

The Washington delegation appreciates the assistance and communication that the Department of Education has provided thus far. Particularly in light of the major disaster declaration issued by President Obama, it is our hope and expectation that the Department will continue to work expeditiously to provide the Darrington and Arlington School Districts with the support they urgently need. We look forward to continuing to partner with you as these communities begin to recover and rebuild in the weeks, months, and years to come.

###