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FEMA sends $2.75 million to schools damaged in Texas blast

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS, Texas (Reuters) - Schools damaged by a West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion will receive $2.75 million in federal funds for temporary classrooms and administrative buildings, the government said Friday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said the money cannot be used for permanent rebuilding by the cash-strapped school district, which is still fighting for resources after the April blast obliterated much of its property.

But the grant allows the town's older students, who were sent to other districts after their schools were damaged, to resume classes back home while their schools are being rebuilt.

The April 17 explosion at the plant killed 14 people and wreaked havoc on surrounding areas. Local officials said costs are approaching $100 million for city and school repairs.

FEMA in June rejected a $40 million request for aid.

Students up to 5th grade finished out the academic year at West Elementary, the only school untouched by the devastation. Students in grades sixth through 12th were bused to nearby school districts.

The district's 1,500 students will resume classes in West on August 26, with students in grades six and above using temporary, portable buildings.

(Editing by Karen Brooks and Doina Chiacu)

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