Steube and Franklin: “Unacceptable Delay” in Hurricane Ian FEMA Funds for Charlotte, DeSoto School Districts
Funding Owed to School Districts is 7 Months Overdue
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives Greg Steube (R-Fla.) and Scott Franklin (R-Fla.) yesterday sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell advising FEMA of the unacceptable delay in FEMA obligating funds for DeSoto and Charlotte County School Districts as a result of the damage from Hurricane Ian that struck Florida in September of 2022.
The members wrote, in part:
“These school districts have been waiting 7 months to have these funds obligated. FEMA and its Consolidated Resource Center (CRC) have had the documentation in their offices since February 2023.”
“FEMA has continually asked for further information that the school districts have promptly supplied and as of July 2023, they have not communicated any further needed documentation. As the school districts describe, ‘it’s like crickets’.”
“These school districts are fiscally constrained and are struggling as they need these funds to restore the upfront costs they covered to get their structures repaired. The schools are open because they fronted the money to repair their buildings and FEMA must restore those funds in their limited coffers.”
“We need your urgent leadership and approval of these Charlotte and DeSoto County School projects prior to the one year anniversary of Hurricane Ian. Please respond immediately and let us know when these funds will be released.”
“We understand that these are not only schools impacted and urge you to designate a liaison for FSBIT to help districts.”
It is estimated that Charlotte County Public Schools are owed $19.2 million from FEMA, and only $9.9 million has been paid to date. It is estimated DeSoto County School District is owed $2.2 million from FEMA and nothing has been paid to date.
“We truly appreciate Congressman Steube and Congressman Franklin for continuing to invest their efforts in our recovery after Hurricane Ian. Making sure our schools remain safe and welcoming spaces for student learning and success is our number one priority. Securing the requested essential funding is imperative to this mission,” said Mark Vianello, Charlotte County Public Schools Superintendent.
“Hurricane Ian happened almost a year ago and we are so grateful to Congressmen Steube and Franklin for assisting us to get our FEMA reimbursement issues resolved. It’s about our kids…we must put them first,” said Bobby Bennett, DeSoto County School Superintendent.