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North Dakota districts use federal funds for school safety

November 19, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota school districts are allocating most of the roughly $3.7 million in federal funding this year to improve school safety and address behavioral health concerns.

The state’s districts received a 75 percent increase in federal funding this year under a block grant program through the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, according to data by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. Congress increased the grant program’s federal funding for schools across the country by about $700 million after the February high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

The grant funding is intended for initiatives that support a well-rounded education, student health and safety and improving the use of technology in learning.

Some North Dakota school districts are using the money for additional security measures, such as hiring school resource officers and installing security cameras. Many schools are putting the money toward behavioral or mental health services.

Wahpeton Public Schools used about $36,000 to hire a school resource officer for the entire district, said Superintendent Rick Jacobson.

Grand Forks Public Schools received about $400,000 in the federal funds this year, and some of the money was put toward hiring a licensed addiction counselor. The district also plans to use the funding to hire additional social workers and “behavior facilitators,” which will help students who have behavior issues and show parents strategies to use at home.

“We had some focus groups with some of our parents and clearly the No. 1 priority was student mental health,” said Jody Thompson, the district’s associate superintendent for elementary education. “Probably like every other community in the country, we’re dealing with substance abuse amongst our high school students and unfortunately with even some of our middle school students.”

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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