Nearly two years after a gunman killed 20 first-graders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the students, parents and community members are still recovering.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education said it is awarding a $3.1 million grant to help the Newtown school system, part of $17 million the Obama administration has spent to date on counseling and other support services for the still-grieving community.
The grant announced Wednesday is awarded through the department’s Project SERV program, which helps fund recovery efforts for school districts, colleges and universities that have experienced a significant traumatic event.
“This continued funding stream allows us to put counselors, psychologists and social workers in places where they are most needed at this time,” Joseph Erardi Jr., the superintendent for the Newtown public schools, told reporters Wednesday.
Erardi said the latest grant will allow the 5,000-student school system to hire an additional three school counselors, five psychologists and three social workers, as well as some unarmed security guards.
School officials also will use the money to pay for psychological training for staff and parents and a new social-emotional curriculum for students in kindergarten through 8th grades, he said.
While time has passed since the shooting, the needs of students, faculty and parents have grown more complex, Erardi said.
“There is still an enormous need for support on both sides — staff and parents, the adults, and our students. ... Quite frankly, I believe we’re in the beginning stages of recovery.”