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Wilson County Schools has received $174,066 in Safe Schools grants in from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Superintendent Lane Mills detailed the funding during Monday’s Wilson County Board of Education meeting.
The district will use $33,333 for an additional school resource officer to work part time between Barnes, Hearne and Vick elementary schools. Mills said the new officer will “create a consistent and stable environment for our students.”
A new camera system will be purchased with $60,000 in school safety equipment funding for a yet-to-be-determined middle school. The grant will pay for the purchase of two new internet protocol cameras, network cabling at camera locations, brackets, dedicated network switches, a network video recorder with 18 terabytes of storage and labor for installation.
Some $65,733 in Student in Crisis Services funds will cover the cost of contracting a licensed mental health service provider who will provide in-school therapy for all district schools. The intent is to manage crisis prevention and suicidal risk assessments in addition to supporting social workers, nurses, school psychologists and other school staff members.
Some $15,000 will be spent for school safety training for administrators, counselors and behavior specialists in “Restorative Therapy and Circle Process” developed by Cynthia Zwicky, a leading expert on the subject from the University of Minnesota.
Mills said WCS is “working to address the social and emotional needs of our students while providing a safe and constructive environment for chance and growth.”
“The training would focus on creating safe environments and shifting the culture of the building, while addressing stressful and crisis-evoking situations for students, teachers and the overall classroom,” Mills said. “The Circle Process offers a different way of dealing with the challenges of everyday life as well as responding to the larger challenges we face. Many of our students have suffered trauma in one form or another whether it be physical violence, abandonment, homelessness or hunger.”
Mills said this internal trauma, if not addressed, “often manifests in external violence.”
Mills said the training “will assist staff members in recognizing early signs of trauma and elicit intervention before it becomes a violent and much more advanced illness for the child.”
In other business, the board:
• unanimously approved the proposed 2020-21 traditional calendar, which includes a two-hour-delay for students on Nov. 3, Election Day.
• in a 4-2 split vote, approved Draft Policy 6316, “other employees as bus drivers” on a second reading with board members Rhyan Breen and Henry Mercer casting the dissenting votes. Among other things, the policy requires that teacher assistants also be qualified as bus drivers. Breen described the policy as “manifestly unfair” and said he was aware of potential teacher assistants who decided not to apply because of the bus driving requirement. Mercer said he wished there was more “wiggle room” in the policy, which was created as a means of bolstering the pool of qualified bus drivers for the school district.
• unanimously approved 13 other draft policies on second readings including child abuse, human trafficking and related threats to child safety — reporting, investigations and training; recruitment and selection of personnel; licensure; drug-free and alcohol-free workplace; occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens; occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in science laboratories; superintendent evaluation; evaluation of licensed employees; plans for growth and improvement of licensed employees; evaluation of non-licensed employees; personnel files; professional employees: demotion and dismissal; and classified personnel: suspension and dismissal.