The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday announced it will distribute another $1.5 million in federal grant funds to the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District in Texas, where 19 children and two educators were killed in a mass shooting one year ago.
"In the wake of this tragedy, the U.S. Department of Education pledged that Uvalde would not have to shoulder this burden alone, and that we would use every resource available to support them in every way possible," said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a statement. "One year later, the needs in Uvalde remain significant."
The awarding of the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) funds came on the first anniversary of the shooting at Robb Elementary School and are in addition to $1.5 million disbursed last year soon after the massacre. At the time, the department also said it would provide technical and on-the-ground support for "months and years to come."
Project SERV funds, made available through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, are usually short-term investments to help communities recover from violent or traumatic events that disrupt learning environments. The department says this can cover mental health services for staff and students, summer programming, and overtime pay for teachers, counselors and security.
The additional $1.5 million announced this week will go toward sustaining efforts funded by last year's federal investment.
Leading up to the one-year anniversary of the massacre, Cardona has also been outspoken about the need for a ban on military-style weapons.
In a congressional hearing last week, Cardona said banning assault weapons would decrease the number and severity of school shootings nationwide. Americans have "become a bit desensitized" to the issue, he said.
The education secretary reiterated that sentiment in announcing the new Project SERV funds on Wednesday.
"Military-style weapons have turned far too many schools and communities into battlefields, and as President Biden has made clear, we need stronger, commonsense gun violence prevention laws," he said in a statement.
In an address Wednesday afternoon commemorating the Uvalde massacre, President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass gun regulations.
"Too many schools — too many everyday places — have become killing fields in communities all across America," Biden said. "And in each place, we hear the same message: 'Do something. For God's sake, please, do something.'" Assault weapons such as the AR-15 rifle, he said, have "been used time and again in mass killing of innocent children."
School shootings reached an unprecedented high in 2022, with 303 incidents on U.S. campuses, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database. There have already been 156 shootings in 2023, a rate that will outpace last year's high if the trend continues.