Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina destroyed schools throughout New Orleans. Since then, the state and city have worked together to make the city’s schools a model for school reform. New Orleans schools have made remarkable progress. They have been an inspiration to those of us who are working to provide a world-class education to all of America’s children.
Despite the progress, New Orleans still has a lot of work to do. More than 100 school buildings were devastated by the floods of Katrina. The city still needs to replace, rebuild and rehabilitate buildings that were destroyed by the floods. Working together, state and city leaders have produced a master plan to will rebuild and renovate its schools.
Today, I joined Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in announcing more than $1.8 billion in federal funds to support the rebuilding of New Orleans’ schools. This money will support the city in building the excellent learning environments that the children of New Orleans deserve.
In addition, the Department of Education continues to support schools throughout the Gulf Coast that suffered damage from Katrina and other hurricanes. Our staff is preparing to award $12 million in grants from the Gulf Coast Recovery Initiative. These grants will help districts replace instructional materials, renovate and repair schools buildings, and support afterschool and other initiatives to provide extended learning.
Over the past five years, the Department has provided nearly $2 billion for schools in the Gulf Coast region. The money helped schools re-open immediately after the hurricanes and supported schools that enrolled students displaced by the hurricanes. It also provided the $7 million to Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, and Mississippi to pay for mental health assessments for students, substitute teachers, and emergency transportation, and other needs shortly after the hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast.
Five years later, New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast are still recovering. President Obama and I are committed to doing our part to provide the students there with the world-class education they deserve.
Arne Duncan is Secretary of Education
Read more from the Hurricane Katrina: 5 Years of Remembering & Rebuilding series.