NEWTOWN, Conn. – A community foundation tasked with dividing up donations received after the Connecticut school shootings Thursday night made preliminary recommendations on $7.7 million that call for giving $281,000 to each of the families of the 26 children and school educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year.
The families of 12 surviving children who witnessed the Dec. 14 shootings would each get $20,000; two teachers who were injured would get $150,000 between them.
The foundation was asked to divide up $11.4 million that was raised with the help of the United Way. The foundation previously decided to divvy up $7.7 million to the families and survivors and to have committees decide on uses for the remainder of the donations, including whether to use some of it for future mental health care and other needs.
The recommendations were released before a public forum Thursday at Newtown's Edmond Town Hall to discuss how to divide the $7.7 million. Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, special advisers to a distribution committee appointed by the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, made the recommendations.
"Is the money adequate? Of course not," Feinberg said. "No amount is adequate to deal with these horrors. Money is a pretty poor substitute but that's what we have. Solomon himself could not distribute this money in a fashion that would please everybody."
The committee met privately before the meeting with some family members. A handful of people commented at the meeting, attended by dozens. Some questioned the process for arriving at the $7.7 million for the families.
"Why isn't all the money going to all the victims? The intent was to give the money to the victims. We're starting from a false premise and this process is re-victimizing the victims," said Caryn Kaufman, who represents a coalition of prior mass shooting victims.
Jeffrey Dion, deputy executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, praised the recommendation to provide money to the 12 children who survived the shootings because he said it recognizes the lasting trauma survivors suffer.
Some victims' families have complained the process has caused them anguish by putting them in the difficult place of deciding how to divide the money.
The $7.7 million is expected to be paid out next month.