Local elementary schools gain grant

BELLAIRE – The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $12.3 million to 35 school districts in 17 states across the country as a way to expand the counseling programs that are provided to elementary schools. Among these schools were Bellaire, Martins Ferry, Bridgeport and Shadyside.

It will be a three-year grant.

“We were awarded a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education for elementary counselors,” Bellaire Superintendent Tony Scott said. “What that is supposed to do is expand of counseling programs in our elementary schools.”

The counseling grant was not only written for Bellaire Elementary but includes Shadyside Elementary, Martins Ferry Elementary and Bridgeport Elementary. The grant, which was worth $169,173, will be divided between the four elementary schools.

“(The grant) came out with Bellaire Schools name on it because we are going to be the Lead Educational Agency for the grant which means the money will be funneled to Bellaire and spread throughout the other schools,” Scott said.

The grant will be used to hire mental health professionals, not the typical school counselors in the elementary schools.

“They are really going to be looking at our school – based counseling programs and try to provide a source to help kids with any mental health issue they could be having,” Scott said.

Due to the grant specifications, the counseling program and mental health professionals will only be available to the elementary students.

According to Scott, they were only one of three schools in Ohio that were awarded the grant.

“We are looking at it as an opportunity for our kids who are struggling with issues that they have outside the school, we can provide services to these kids that may be having family issues in their home life then there will be a resource available at our schools to zero in on the specific areas.”

The schools are still in the early stages of planning and are unsure if there will be one person for all four schools or will each have a mental health professional on campus.

“It all depends on the need but I can see it growing to where there will be one person assigned to a school district,” Scott said. “We ever you can get a little extra money from the federal government, we are tickled to death to receive it … and the idea of the grant is to have a program at the end of the grant that can sustain through either the schools or through other agencies within the county which a lot of times is very difficult, but that is the hope.

Van Dyne can be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com.