U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) will offer an amendment to the Strengthening America's Schools Act of 2013 that would authorize federal funds to assist with the construction of a new Sandy Hook Elementary School. The bill, which will reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), will be taken up by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee today.
The amendment mirrors standalone legislation introduced by Senators Murphy and Richard Blumenthal in the Senate (S.1025), and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty in the House (H.R. 2102) titled the Helping Communities Rebuild After Deadly School Shootings and Other Traumatic Events Act. Every member of Connecticut's congressional delegation has signed on to the bill as original co-sponsors.
"Since that terrible morning in December, the families of the victims and the entire Newtown community have been tested to the very limits of human grief," said Murphy. "And through the pain and suffering, Newtown has come together to heal, and America has been behind this community the whole way. So when a major tragedy like this occurs, we feel a responsibility as a country to help. I hope that my colleagues on the HELP Committee will agree that the little boys and girls at Sandy Hook Elementary shouldn't be asked to walk the same halls where their classmates were slaughtered."
The measure would authorize schools to apply for funding through the existing School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant program for site construction in the wake of mass tragedies, and allow for federal assistance to Sandy Hook Elementary School for its recently approved reconstruction project.
Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the SERV grant provides federal assistance to communities after traumatic violent events. While this grant program already provides much-needed funds for mental health counseling and other assistance, current law prohibits the SERV grant from being used for building construction.