Feds To Help Hurricane Damaged Parochial Schools

This week President Bush announced parochial schools are eligible for grants and loans. Critics may say helping religion based schools is a violation of church and state. However, the president says since natural disasters don't discriminate on the basis of religion, neither should the government recovery efforts.

Nine feet of water forced Annie Campbell and her students to move their lessons to another part of the school building. She says her first graders are anxious to be back in their old classroom.

"Oh, they can't wait," said Campbell. "Everyday we pass by they're like, 'When are we getting back?' or, 'Is it almost ready?' They notice, so they're anxious to get back."

Initially, volunteers gutted and cleaned Cedar Lake Christian Academy in but now the Biloxi school must pay workers to continue the process. The principal says that's where government funds could really help.

"As volunteers are leaving and their going back to homes and their families that would also give us the opportunity to hire out and to do the things we need to do to finish. It's still very clear we have a lot to do," principal Lisa Williams said.

Cedar Lake Christian Academy has a lot to do and a lot of supplies to replace since its insurance did not cover contents ruined by flooding. In the past some religious groups have hesitated to accept government money for fear of losing their autonomy. Williams says she has no such concerns.

"I really feel its all about the children and its all about furthering their education and we happen to be able to do that in a Christian environment here and it's a wonderful opportunity to have."

Williams says this is a wonderful opportunity to show that private and public, religious and secular can work together for the common good. The president also announced that religious based non-profit organizations that provide relief services are also eligible for federal assistance.