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Bismarck schools spending $1.4M on safety, mental health

August 8, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Bismarck School Board is spending $1.4 million to try to bolster school safety and mental health support for students.

Board members voted unanimously Monday to hire additional staff, including 31 aides, a part-time social worker and two school psychologists, The Bismarck Tribune reported . The money also will fund other mental health services.

The money for the additional hires comes from district reserves.

Interim Superintendent Jim Haussler said teachers shouldn’t be asked to be mental health experts, and the new positions are needed.

“Sometimes, we do ask our teachers to be mental health experts, and that’s not what we’re paying them for,” he said. We’re paying them to teach, and somehow we need to provide our teachers with the resources that are necessary to deal with some of those kids.”

Haussler also wants to form a committee to review various mental health-based pilot programs throughout the school district.

The board also approved providing more funding to add a social worker and expand programs at Riverside Education Center.

Riverside’s out-of-school suspension program helps students identify what behaviors led to their suspensions and what they can do avoid being suspended again. The school also has a treatment program for students struggling in school because of mental health issues.

The programs give students a second chance, said Joe Kalvoda, who is the principal of South Central High School, which is in the Riverside Education Center.

“The mental health services side of things is very complex, and it’s a large need in our community,” he said. “It’s not something that I think schools can take care of completely, (but) we can help.”

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

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