Bill introduced to help reduce penalties against schools with uninsured buildings that flooded

(WAFB) - On Thursday, Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy introduced a bill aimed to help schools that flooded in August of 2016.

If a school had any uninsured buildings that flooded, a penalty was taken out of the recovery money that district could receive for each building that took on water. The class act aims to apply just one penalty to the entire campus instead of one for each building.

"School districts incurred huge costs because of the historic 2016 floods. Not only did campuses flood, but new campuses had to quickly be created. These school districts are under tremendous financial stress. This legislation will ensure that they are not unfairly penalized for every single structure that flooded.  Instead, they'll get a one-time penalty. They'll take a lick and be able to move on and rebuild," said Kennedy.

If passed, the bill could save school districts from millions of dollars in penalties. The announcement included statements from the superintendents of East Baton Rouge, Livingston, and Ascension school boards supporting the bill.

"The NFIP penalty will financially cripple the Livingston Parish school district. Without some type of relief from this terrible interpretation of the Stafford Act, Livingston Parish stands to lose approximately $20 million that would normally be used for educating our students. Denham Springs High School alone has over twenty buildings that each would be subject to this $500,000 penalty," said Livingston Parish Schools Superintendent Rick Wentzel.

"Almost all of our schools that were impacted by the Historic Flood of 2016 had more than one disaster damaged building on-site, so the CLASS Act will be a tremendous help to our schools that reside in special flood hazard areas. This legislation will allow us to maximize the use of the remaining funds in a way that will benefit our students the most," said EBR Superintendent Warren Drake.

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