County Superintendent Advocates for Wildfire Recovery Support for Schools at State Education Hearing
On Wednesday, Feb. 6, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Steve Herrington participated in a panel before California's Assembly Education Committee to share lessons learned from his experience responding to the 2017 Tubbs fire as well as assisting Butte and Shasta county schools following the fires that devastated their communities.
Dr. Herrington joined Zoe Miller, a teacher from Piner High school in Santa Rosa, along with numerous state officials and county superintendents from Butte, Shasta, and Ventura counties at the committee's informational hearing titled "The impact of California Wildfires on Public Schools: Response and Recovery."
Ms. Miller shared her experience as a parent and community member who lost her home in the Tubbs fire, as well as a teacher serving students who were impacted by the fire's devastation and the aftermath of its economic toll on the community. She spoke of the need for continued mental health support for staff and students.
Dr. Herrington was invited to share lessons learned and make policy recommendations based on his experiences. He advocated for the following priorities:
- Continue and expand protected funding for school districts that have lost student enrollment due to wildfires to include charter schools
- Create statewide, standardized guidelines for when schools should close due to air quality with the help of state air quality and pediatric health experts
- Continue and expand on a state task force that was created in response to the Tubbs fire to help schools with the specific issues they face after a fire-related disaster
- Support the creation of a wildfire recovery toolkit for schools being developed by the California County Superintendents Association (CCSESA)
- Prioritize mental health support for students and staff, including support from California's Mental Health Services division