Darrington schools get federal grant to pay for mudslide expenses

DARRINGTON — The school district here is getting federal money to pay expenses related to the Oso mudslide.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded the district a $10,341 Project School Emergency Response to Violence grant. The grant program, also know as Project SERV, is intended to cover costs for schools affected by a violent or traumatic event. Darrington was granted its full request for funding, said McKenzie Boyd, the district’s business manager.

The Arlington School District received a $9,090 Project SERV grant in June.

Both districts were affected by the March 22 mudslide that ripped through the Steelhead Haven neighborhood in Oso, killing 43 people, destroying homes and blocking the highway between Darrington and Arlington.

After the slide, the districts bore additional transportation costs for staff and students. They also hired substitute teachers to cover for instructors who couldn’t make it to work, according to a letter from U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene. They sent the letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, urging financial support for the school districts.

Seven Darrington teachers live in Arlington and struggled to get to work using lengthy detours after the slide blocked Highway 530. Nine Darrington students who were studying part-time at the Sno-Isle Skills Center in Everett also faced delays and detours to get to classes.

One Darrington teacher lost loved ones in the slide, and a substitute was hired to cover the class for the last part of the 2013-14 school year, Boyd said.

“The landslide has presented considerable challenges for the local school districts of Darrington and Arlington,” the senators and representatives wrote in their May 30 letter. “Oso children attended both districts and each has students among the missing or dead.”

Three Darrington and Arlington school district students died in the mudslide. Denver Harris, 14, was a student at Darrington Middle School. Jovon Mangual, 13, attended Post Middle School. Hunter Ruthven, 6, went to Kent Prairie Elementary School.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439, kbray@heraldnet.com.

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