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Federal funds and school board actions tackle Louisa schools rebuilding efforts

Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

By Greg Dorazio

For one desperate moment in October, it looked as though the Federal Emergency Management Agency had turned its back on Louisa County.

Now it’s hard to keep up with the FEMA grant awards which continue to roll in to the community at the epicenter of the August 23 earthquake.

On March 19, Louisa County Public Schools received another award–this one totalling $3.8 million–to offset some of the costs associated with the temporary response to the loss of classroom space caused by the 5.8-magnitude earthquake.

According to Phillip Trayer, LCPS director of finance, those funds will help cover expenses incurred for temporary accommodations for Louisa County High School.

The school division received approximately $379,000 in federal funds to offset the cost of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School’s  modular reincarnation on the Trevilians Elementary School site. Because that award was valued at less than $1 million, explained Trayer, it was not accompanied by a press release from federal officials.

As the FEMA grant was announced on March 15, supervisors were endorsing the school board’s request for funds to demolish the historic Thomas Jefferson Elementary School building. Preliminary work has already begun to rebuild the school on the Rt. 33 site southeast of the town of Louisa.

FEMA awarded LCPS with $3.2 million for the elementary school rebuilding, along with $19 million for the reconstruction of the high school.

But without the approval of the FEMA disaster declaration–which was given on appeal–the county would have not had access to any of the $26.4 million in federal funding–and accompanying state money–that will now be critical in the rebuilding effort.   See below for more on the next steps approved by school board members.


On March 20, the Louisa County School Board passed several motions focused on moving towards recovery from the earthquake, which included the following:

·To submit to VDEM the intent to demolish TJES as stated in resolutions passed by the School Board and Board of Supervisors.

·Begin negotiations with Architect number 1 with School Board attorney for rebuilding TJES, with intent to use MNES’s footprint. Intention to select architect by the April 3, 2012 meeting.

·Advertise Request For Proposals to demolish TJES.

·To ask legal counsel to file proof of loss to VSBA for all school buildings.

As the school division nears the seven-month anniversary of the earthquake, we have moved forward by setting up modular units to house 40 percent of our students at Thomas Jefferson Elementary and Louisa County High School. This has allowed our students to return to normal academic and extracurricular activities and meet the required “clock hours” in school. In addition, we have secured the support of FEMA and been the recipient of generosity from individuals and businesses on the local, state and national level. Throughout all of this we are most grateful that no lives were lost.