SYRACUSE — School districts statewide are often overwhelmed by the emotional and social needs students face. Those needs have increased in recent years especially due to the opioid addiction crisis and other factors families are dealing with.
To address this problem, Lilly Endowment launched a counseling initiative in September 2016 and began awarding grants to public schools. The Wawasee Community School Corporation is the recipient of a $302,700 grant from Lilly Endowment, approved by the school board during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening, July 10, in Syracuse.
Dr. Sandra Weaver, director of special services, noted the grant will provide for an “early warning system” for the more at-risk students to try to deal with problems before those problems more fully develop.
“They (students) live a different life than we’re used to seeing,” Weaver said, noting there are hunger issues, no one helping the students with homework, parents dealing with alcohol and drug addictions and more.
Weaver added the grant will allow the possibility of a new position to be created, more specifically a social and emotional liaison, who would do crisis assessments with at-risk students. And the grant would provide funding for parents to have two free counseling sessions.
Board member Mary Lou Dixon said it would be a challenge to get some parents to attend counseling because they would tend to think the problems are with their kids. But board member Mike Wilson noted “if we can help just one person it’s worth it.”
Another grant in the amount of $14,177 from the K21 Health Foundation was approved by the board and will be used to start a new Pathways program, health sciences education.
In other business, James Flecker, director of personnel and legal services, gave a brief report on the Milford School summer construction projects. Two different bond projects are funding the construction and literally every room in the building is being renovated in some way.
Flecker said the front office and library probably won’t be finished by the time school starts Aug. 15. “We wanted the new principal (Stephen Troyer) to see how he wants the front office to look,” he said, explaining why it will take the front office longer to be renovated.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, textbook rental fees for the 2018-19 school year were approved for grades K to five. Kindergarten will be $148.75, first grade $149, second grade $149, third grade $148.10, fourth grade $150.75 and fifth grade $145.05. Depending on the specific grade, the cost increased anywhere from about $10 to $12 compared to last year due to the adoption of a new math curriculum and the insurance cost for electronic devices.
Other agenda items included:
• Tessa Doll, 2013 Wawasee High School graduate, was approved as a new sixth grade math teacher at Milford School.
• A new German teacher is being sought for WHS due to Julie Baird’s retirement.
• The board approved a trip to a summer camp in Anderson for the WHS cheerleaders.
• The mobile device insurance agreement renewal was approved by the board. Two-hundred devices were added this year, but the cost of insurance will remain the same.
• Online school registration goes live next week.
• New teacher orientation is Aug. 6-10. Some open positions have yet to be filled.
• K-8 professional development for math sessions will be held July 24 and 30 at Syracuse Elementary.