I-SS secures nearly $13 million in federal grants to fund mental health initiatives
BY KARISSA MILLER
Students in 21 schools in the Iredell-Statesville Schools System will have access to increased mental health support thanks to nearly $13 million in federal grants.
The U.S. Department of Education grant money, which the district will receive over five years, will fund services for students who have experienced violence and trauma. I-SS officials will use the money to add 21 new positions, many of which will focus on mental health support.
The grants will allow the district to focus on students who are at high-risk and have the greatest need for services, according to I-SS Executive Director of Student Services Kelly Marcy.
Marcy asked the school board on Monday to consider early approval of three federal grants. The board normally does not vote to approve agenda items during their committee of the whole meeting.
However, since the timeline is critical, the board agreed to suspend the rules and then voted to accept the three grants on Monday evening.
“We’re very excited to accept these grants and get started. They will not cost I-SS any funds (because there is no cash match),” Marcy explained.
Among the district efforts that will be funded are an expanded school-based therapy program and crisis response services through the district's partnership with Children’s Hope Alliance.
Some flexible funding will also be set aside for contracted services and other resources, officials said.
The first grant is an Education Innovation and Research grant for $3.99 million over a five-year period that will fund an initiative called RIPPLE.
RIPPLE stands for Reducing disparities and Implementing strategies to Promote Proactive Learning Environments.
The federal grant will be directed at 10,729 high-need students in 21 schools, including elementary, middle and high schools.
The elementary schools are Cloverleaf, East Iredell, Third Creek, Celeste Henkel, Central, Cool Spring, Harmony, NB Mills, Scotts, Sharon, Troutman and Union Grove. The middle schools are East Iredell, Statesville, North Iredell, Troutman and West Iredell. The high schools are North Iredell, West Iredell, Statesville and Pressly Alternative (K-12).
The goal of the grant is to implement a trauma-informed interventional approach to improve educational outcomes for high-need K-12 students. It will also provide professional learning for educators to develop awareness and understanding of the impact trauma has on student achievement.
The grant will fund a project director and coordinator, two social workers, one behavioral specialist, two SAPs then five SAPs by year three.
The second grant is a School Climate Transformation grant for $3.7 million over a five-year period. It is entitled INSPIRE, which stands for Interventions to Nurture Students and Provide Individualized Responsive Environments.
It will include the 21 RIPPLE schools.
The grant will fund an in-kind project director, three social workers, three behavior technicians and three contracted clinical therapists.
Some of the expected outcomes are to reduce school suspensions or expulsions for alcohol or drug possession, and reduce bullying as well as increase student/parent perceptions of the school climate.
The third grant is a Project Prevent grant for $4.9 million over a five-year period. It is entitled ERADICATE, which stands for Expanding Resources, Activities & Dissemination of Information to Combat All violence Through Education.
The grant will serve 4,022 high-needs students in Cloverleaf, East Iredell, NB Mills, Third Creek elementary schools; East Iredell and Statesville middle schools; and Statesville High School.
The focus of this grant is to break the cycle of violence.
The staffing will include an in-kind project director, two social workers, two behavioral specialists, three behavioral technicians and three contracted clinical therapists.