Federal help available to CA schools struggling with wildfire costs

California school districts affected by the October wildfires will get $2 million from the federal government to reimburse them for staff overtime, hiring substitute teachers, mental health services, bus service for students who lost their homes and other costs related to the disasters. The funds will be available to districts in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Butte, Lake, Nevada, Yuba and Orange counties. Schools affected by December’s wildfires in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego counties have until March 30 to apply for reimbursement from the state.

In Sonoma County, schools spent millions of dollars in the wake of the fires. The costs included everything from masks and air filters at newly re-opened schools, to evacuating a facility for developmentally disabled students, to using schools as community evacuation shelters. Clean-up and air quality testing was another large expense, as several schools were coated in toxic ash.

In all, Sonoma County saw two schools destroyed and a dozen damaged. About 1,450 students and 250 school staff members lost their homes.

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