SCOTTSBLUFF — Scottsbluff Public Schools was awarded a federal school climate transformation grant by the U.S. Department of Education Oct. 1, which will allow the district to continue supporting students.
The School Climate Transformation Grant Program-Local Education Agency Grant (SCTG-LEA) is a competitive grant given to local educational agencies to develop, enhance or expand systems of support for, and technical assistance to, schools implementing a multi-tiered system of support, for improving school climate.
Executive Director of Student Services Wendy Kemling and district Superintendent Rick Myles happened to learn about the grant after receiving a junk email.
“We both got an email in our junk folder and sent it to each other,” Myles said.
Kemling took on the task of gathering the grant information and writing the grant quickly as they learned of the grant in June and the deadline was mid-July. She will also oversee the implementation.
The five-year grant is the largest competitive grant Scottsbluff Public Schools has received.
“In addition to providing tremendous opportunities to our students and our schools, this federal grant is delivering much of nearly $2.5 million new dollars directly into our local economy,” Myles said. “This School Climate grant award will bring meaningful, long-term benefits to youth throughout our entire community and, we hope, bring societal benefits for many years to come.”
Over the next five years, the district will have a budget of $460,000 to $500,000 per year to implement support policies for students. One of the big focuses through the grant is addressing the opioid crisis.
The grant will fund professional development and training for staff in areas of trauma-informed practices, diversity, restorative practice, positive behavior interventions and supports, one-on-one and group counseling on drugs and alcohol and positive behavior interventions.
Through the grant, Myles said the district will be able to add on to current support systems in ways that make sense for student needs. One of those ways is changes to suspension to help students set expectations and restore relationships between students and school teachers and staff. As part of that, the idea of zoom rooms came about to keep students in the school.
“When a kid is suspended, they are taken out of all their classes for three days when the issue may be in one class,” Myles said.
The zoom rooms will be an expansion of classrooms set up in the Freshman Academy where the district previously spent $10,000 to install cameras and microphones.
The district can also extend contracts with local health professionals as they continue to work with local counselors addressing drug and alcohol use in students.
“We’re blending in practices that make sense for our students and district,” Myles said.
The district will be advertising for a program director who will oversee the implementation and progress over the next five years.
Scottsbluff Public Schools is one of 69 districts awarded across the nation.