Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, has set aside $3.3 million for violence prevention and school security. As part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, the federal government’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) monies were set aside for governors’ distributions (CRRSAA).
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides Oregon with approximately $8.2 million in federal cash, the U.S. Department of Education also told the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).
Every student who enters an Oregon school should feel safe, welcome, and included, according to Brown. “Gun violence prevention should be a priority for every kid in Oregon. Every parent should be able to drop off their kids at school with confidence that they will return home safely. Every teacher and school employee ought to be able to report for duty without worrying about their own safety or the safety of the pupils they are responsible for.
“With this $3.3 million, school districts can strengthen their current initiatives to prevent violence, including their safety-based crisis intervention systems, their campaigns to combat bullying, harassment, and intimidation, and their initiatives to support students’ mental health and wellbeing. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act’s incoming funds will be combined with additional tools that school districts will have to keep students safe.
Colt Gill, director of ODE, stated that making sure schools are inclusive and inviting to all is essential to ensuring that they are secure environments for both educators and children to learn in. Oregon can intensify its efforts to ensure that every individual on school grounds feels included, cared for, and prepared to learn or teach thanks to Governor Brown’s investment and this federal assistance.
All 19 education service districts now have 19 full-time roles for school safety and prevention specialists (ESDs)
The GEER monies will be combined with money from Student Success Act and Adi’s Act to pay for new School Safety and Prevention System (SSPS) specialist positions in education service districts that support all 197 school districts in the state. Support for these positions will keep growing in order to strengthen the regions of the state that require more funding.
According to Brown, nine regions will use additional staffing to make their positions full-time, and eight new full-time posts will be created for those who now rely on help from other regions. Two ESDs will keep their current full-time jobs going forward. The end result is that there is now the equivalent of 19 full-time employees throughout all 19 education service districts that assist Oregon districts and schools statewide, up from 2 full-time posts and 9 part-time ones across the state.
In order to address concerns about how this additional cash may be used, ODE has been collaborating with education service districts (ESDs) around Oregon over the past few weeks. Agreements with the ESDs will be completed this month. To find out how to effectively support GEER fund implementation, ODE and the Oregon Association of Education Service Districts (OAESD) undertook talks with ESD teams together. These meetings were created to give participants a clear picture of the evolution of the current SSPS positions and how prospective additional staffing can support growth.
The team obtained information from each ESD regarding their current issues, their goals for the upcoming year, how they plan to use the extra FTE, and any assistance they may require from ODE and OAESD. The designated areas of need may vary, and the increased financing from GEER may reflect those priorities given the distinctive needs of each region of the state. To take full use of this chance, the ESDs are creating staffing plans.
Additional information about School Safety and Prevention Specialists, Safe and Inclusive Schools
The ODE Safe and Inclusive Schools team has supported projects to improve school climate and culture in collaboration with the current School Safety and Prevention Specialists (SSPS).
Among these initiatives are the “Every Student Belongs” program, a collaborative project with OHA on strengthening mental health in education, an integrated model of mental health with recommendations to assist centered mental health, and support for the program’s implementation. A framework for responding to prejudice incidents was created with equity and restorative practices at its core.
School Safety and Prevention Specialists (SSPS) have assisted in the statewide implementation of ODE’s suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention initiatives, including Section 36 of the Student Success Act (SSA) and Adi’s Act, in conjunction with ODE and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
These initiatives have included the rollout of the School Suicide Prevention and Wellness (SSPW) Program through Lines for Life with five positions statewide to provide districts with technical assistance and training to improve their suicide prevention efforts through the development of Adi’s Act plans and toolkits for districts of all sizes.
Together with the Alliance to Prevent Suicide, the SSPSs have developed a three-year school suicide prevention research project to identify and develop statewide best practices for policy and implementation frameworks as well as a resource map of state initiatives, services, and supports. The SSPSs have also established crisis response teams of trained staff in ESDs across the state, designed to respond to behavioral or mental health crises in schools.
According to a Brown press release, the SSPSs will continue to collaborate across regions, districts, schools, and community organizations to deliver the most comprehensive and pertinent practices and support available—now with a full-time staff member spearheading efforts at each of the 19 ESDs.
This regionally based group of experts continues to act as the main resource for districts and schools in need of urgent crisis assistance as well as the main support channel for districts and schools. According to Brown, the foundations of Oregon’s School Safety and Prevention System are a network of care, relational trust, and support.
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