UPDATE: I am delighted by the quick response to today’s column and the interest in helping public schools affected by the severe flooding in Louisiana. Although school districts cannot make such contributions using public funds, individual board members, administrators and school staff may contribute as private citizens. In addition, organizations such as parents’ groups and student clubs may participate in fundraising.
Thanks so much for caring!
– Dr. Larry Feinsod
Three subjects dominated the news this month: the presidential campaign, the summer Olympics, and historic flooding along the Gulf Coast. Particularly hard hit was Louisiana, with much of the capital region around Baton Rouge submerged in water.
In fact, today’s news reports indicate that, ten days after the record rains subsided, rivers are still above flood stage and much of Louisiana, along with areas of Mississippi, remains under standing water. People are displaced; schools are closed.
The federal government termed the flooding the worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy. That comparison should hit home for us in New Jersey.
It was almost four years ago, that our state was struck by the unprecedented storm. Here too, families were displaced and schools were closed. In response, NJSBA initiated a relief effort to match schools in need with donors. The generosity of people throughout the country was impressive. For me, what stood out were the responses we received from people in Louisiana, for whom another climatic disaster—Hurricane Katrina—was a not-so-recent memory.
Last week, I received a message from Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, about a fund his organization has set up to help affected public schools get back on their feet. He pointed out that federal assistance can take time, and it’s imperative that schools “get up and running as soon as possible.” His message is compelling:
“Natural disasters such as the historic flooding event occurring in south Louisiana never happen at a ‘good time’—and this one is hitting just as many school districts started the new school year. In fact, the most seriously affected districts had just completed day one or two of the new school year, and now face the challenge of trying to get schools up and running again—without the necessary supplies needed to do so.
“Moreover, many families have lost all their belongings and their homes.
“While we know state and federal assistance is in process, the LSBA Board of Directors and Membership felt it appropriate to establish an LSBA Fund for Restoring Schools to provide additional assistance in the short term to assist with basic school supplies and instructional materials replacement.
“All contributions into the Fund will be donated by the LSBA to school districts based upon the proportion of students whose schools were flooded. The school district will then decide how best to expend the funds, as they will best know how to address their individual needs. The LSBA will be able to provide short-term assistance for such necessities as classroom supplies, repairs, clean-up costs, and basic technology replacement.”
People from Louisiana and across the country helped New Jersey schools when we were struck by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Today, I urge you to consider helping the public schools of Louisiana recover from these disastrous floods.
These are my Reflections. I look forward to hearing yours. Contact me at [email protected].
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