(January 24, 2020 – Washington, D.C.) Today, the U.S. Department of Education approved Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE)’s request for an extension to use the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operation (Restart). After Hurricanes Irma and María devastated the island in 2017, the already-challenging educational conditions in Puerto Rico were dramatically exacerbated. The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2018 authorized the Restart program to make awards to states and territories affected by a major disaster or emergency. The purpose of this program is to assist local educational agencies and nonpublic schools with expenses related to the restart of elementary schools and secondary schools in areas where a major disaster or emergency was declared under sections 401 and 501 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
The Puerto Rico Department of Education was awarded $589 million in grant funding in the spring of 2018 from this federal program for the purpose of restarting operations. This funding would be provided under a multiphase process intended to provide prompt initial funding while offering subsequent opportunities for additional assistance thought future applications.
PRFAA worked with the PRDE to request an extension of the (Restart) funds from USDE which was approved. The end date to access the funds will be August 26, 2021. This program would provide assistance to address the loss of academic resources as well as the social and emotional needs of students impacted by the hurricanes. These services would provide an advance in the long-term recovery of Puerto Rico’s education system.
“Today, our children continue to recover from damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and María which impaired our education system.” said Jennifer M. Storipan, Esq. “Children are our priority and we continue to look for ways to improve their future and create resilient solutions in the face of natural disasters. This funding would provide assistance and much needed resources for our children in the island.”