The U.S. Department of Education awarded Joplin Schools a $49,780 Project SERV grant to help provide local students and education staff with academic and mental health services following the Category 5 tornado that struck the Joplin community on May 22, 2011.
"Tragic events can cause a tremendous disturbance to schools and setback the lives of students," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who visited Joplin with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino last September.
"I saw firsthand how the Joplin community came together to rebuild. These resources will support their continued effort to move forward and work to transform and modernize their schools in ways that better prepare students for college and career," he added.
Project SERV provides critical support to districts and institutions of higher education that have experienced a significant traumatic event and need resources to respond, recover, and re-establish a safe environment for students. The Office of Safe and Healthy Students, formerly the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, has awarded more than $28 million to 93 grantees, including Joplin Schools, since the grant program began in 2001.
The Joplin district comprises 17 schools: 12 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 1 high school and 1 technology center, which includes a high school program as well as a career training center. These schools serve more than 7,700 students in pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade and are staffed by approximately 500 educators. The 2011 tornado caused severe physical damage to Joplin Schools, completely destroying three schools, Joplin High School, Irving Elementary and Franklin Technology Center, and severely damaging six other schools in addition to thousands of residences and hundreds of businesses.
President Obama is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Joplin High School on May 21, nearly one year to the date of the 2011 tornado.