SANTA ROSA (KPIX) — As 31,000 Butte County students return to the classroom for their second first day of school this year, Sonoma County is offering a specific form of assistance.
Not in the form of donations, though they have created a fund for Butte, but they’re also offering up their experience.
“He sounded hurried when I got the call,” Sonoma County Supervisor Steve Herrington said of his phone conversation with Butte County Supervisor Tim Taylor the night after the fire.
“I told him first you need to take care of your people, you need a division of labor. You need to be visible, available, and a problem solver because everybody’s life is impacted right now,” Herrington said.
“Next you can worry about finances, because people need to get paid, if your office is running efficiently and effectively you can take care of people and that’s your number one job is to take care of people and take care of students. We know what that’s like and we know it’s important to connect people” he added.
4,832 students were displaced in Butte along with 379 teachers.
“We’re excited to have kids back, the teachers back, the bus drivers back,” Tim Taylor, Butte County Superintendent of Schools said at a press conference Monday.
Butte students commuted in many cases from shelters to makeshift classrooms in churches, community centers, and even inside the Lens Crafters at the local mall.
“They’ve lost everything 97% of our town is gone, its heartwrenching and yet they drive from all over to be with their teachers from whom they love,” Superintendent of Paradise Unified Michelle John said.
Herrington says the state created a task force to deal with student trauma after the 2017 fires. This year 1600 students weren’t able to return to Sonoma County due to displacement. The county loses $1500 per student in state funding.
In Sonoma six schools were destroyed or damaged by the fires, all have been rebuilt or are back in operation. In Butte County 14 schools were damaged or destroyed in the fire.