PARADISE – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom visited students in Paradise Ridge Elementary School as they begin their first full week of classes for the 2019-20 school year. The school is located where the former Paradise Intermediate campus was based, and combines two TK-6 schools, Paradise Elementary (which burned down in the Camp Fire) and Ponderosa Elementary (which was damaged in the Camp Fire).
The visit comes nine months following the Camp Fire, which displaced families and students in the area, and six months after the Governor signed AB 72, which provided emergency funding to rebuild the community. The measure was the first bill Governor Newsom signed into law after being sworn into office.
“My message to the students of Paradise is this: I’m so proud of you. The state is proud of you for being back at school and ready to learn,” said Governor Newsom. “I know many of you have been through a deep amount of uncertainty this last year. I want you to know our state stands with you. We are rooting for you, your neighbors, and your community.”
AB 72 provided $31.8 million in emergency funding to local governments impacted by last year’s wildfires by backfilling local property taxes, so that they could stay afloat while they rebuild their communities. Butte County received $24.15 million for the next three years. This year’s state budget includes $10 million for Camp Fire recovery on top of property tax backfill.
The Governor also highlighted the steps California has taken to better prepare, including:
· Nearly $1 billion in the state budget for emergency preparedness and response,
· An executive order signed on July 31 authorizing the surge of almost 400 seasonal firefighters to CAL FIRE this year and 13 new fire engines,
· Identifying and accelerating implementation of 35 priority fuel reduction projects to protect over 200 of California’s most at-risk communities using existing forest health and fire prevention funding,
· Redirecting up to 100 California National Guard personnel to create fuel reduction and fire suppression crews that are available to CAL FIRE to undertake priority projects,
· Beginning overdue modernization of California’s 9‑1‑1 system, and
· Working with California’s congressional delegation to secure the state’s eligibility for $12.6 billion in federal funding for disaster relief, to name a few.
In the immediate aftermath of the Camp Fire, the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) activated the Schools Task Force to coordinate with the California Department of Education, the Butte County Office of Education and Paradise Unified School District (PUSD) to determine needs for students, including alternate locations for them to attend school in the Chico and Oroville areas.
This is Governor Newsom’s fourth trip to the Camp Fire area since the fire.
Pool footage and photos of the Governor’s visit are available to press upon request.