U.S. gives $683M in disaster aid to Calif., Texas, Puerto Rico schools

April 30 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Education authorized Monday nearly $700 million in disaster aid for schools in California, Texas and Puerto Rico, that were affected by disasters last year.

Officials said the funding is the first in a “multi-phased process” to aid states impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and wildfires in Northern California’s Napa Valley.

“As communities get back on their feet in disaster-affected regions, we continue to support them in every way we can,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement.

“This additional funding will ensure students, teachers and staff have ongoing access to the services they need to fully recover and rebuild.”

The Puerto Rico Department of Education will receive $589 million from the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations program. Texas schools will receive $89 million and California schools $14 million.

The funding amounts were determined based on the number of schools affected and how long they were closed. The money is also available to charter schools and private schools.

The funds will be distributed by state agencies to local districts to cover costs associated with recovery measures, and help schools recreate a “normal learning environment” for students.