By Richard Weizel
MILFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - Families of 20 children and six adults killed in the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school each will receive $281,000 from the $11.4 million in donations, an oversight board said on Wednesday.
The Newtown Sandy Hook Foundation, which oversees the donations, also decided that the families of 12 children who witnessed and survived the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December each will get $20,000 and two teachers who were injured will split $150,000.
Of the total $11.4 million in donations raised with the help of the United Way charity, $7.7 million was set aside for the victims of what was one of the worst mass school shootings in U.S. history. The remaining $3.7 million was dedicated to a long-term community fund, a decision by the foundation board that has been criticized by some victims' families and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy.
"You really have to ask the foundation board why it decided not to distribute all the donated funds to the families," said Kenneth Feinberg, who advised the distribution committee and also oversaw compensation for victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and the Boston Marathon bombing.
Dr. Charles Herrick, chairman of the foundation board, pointed out "the board decided to distribute 95 percent of the funds directly to the families, but there are many, many victims - including 400 students at the school that day and all the first responders.
"We wanted to ensure there are some funds left for the future needs of people in the community who are going to need help," said Herrick, a Newtown resident and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry of the Western Connecticut Health Network, which oversees Danbury and New Milford Hospitals.
"This is a balancing act and there are other victims we have to think about too," he said. "This is a marathon, not a sprint and there's no way to know what problems will arise over the next 10 years."
In a letter to the board, Malloy insisted that an independent third party from outside of Newtown be chosen to oversee any remaining funds. Herrick said the board would press ahead with its plan to appoint another local distribution committee by mid-September to oversee the money.
(Reporting by Richard Weizel; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Stacey Joyce)