FDCSD Receives Two Grants for School Culture, Climate - from The Messenger
By: Brandon L. Summers
The Fort Dodge Community school District has received two grants aimed at improving school culture and climate.
Stacy Cole, FDCSD director of education services, and Kim Bodholdt, FDMS counselor, explained the grants to the FDCSD school board and its regular meeting Monday, held at Riverside Early Learning Center.
Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education), a federal grant offered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will provide Fort Dodge Middle School with $100,000 over two years toward mental health services.
The grant will cover four areas, Bodholdt said: emergency planning, school climate, student and school safety, and mental health.
It will also help enhance the school's Positive Behavior Intervention Supports program, which has three tiers, including universal expectations and small group strategies.
"the ideal in PBIS is that 80 percent of students will do what they're supposed to do in the building based on those universals, but then there's 20 percent of kids who need more," Bodholdt said. "Tier three is really for the most difficult kids in our school."
The grant also covers bullying prevention, as well as mental health first aid.
"Our goal, and a part of the grant, is to train 250 people in our schools and our community over the next two years in mental health first aid, which will allow the to notice things that are going on with students and help us give them the resources they need," Bodholdt said.
FDMS will also receive a School Climate Transformation Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which provides a minimum of $315,000 yearly for five years.
"We're probably the only school in American that got the grant. Other people who got the grant were school systems, school districts, state agencies or area education agencies," Ryan Flaherty, FDMS assistant principal, said. "We have the opportunity to create a lot of change."
The grant will be applied toward improving the climate with the middle school, Flaherty said.
"We hear our students say, I don't like school. I don't like my teachers. We've had our teachers say I'm struggling with Johnny. I'm struggling with Sally. I don't know how to reach them. And right now, we're kind of stuck in finger-pointing," he said. "We realized that finger-pointing isn't getting us where we want to be, so maybe a system of supports will."
He added, "It's a large task but with the staff that we have and some of the planning we've done, I think we can accomplish that."