Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $918,815)
This STOP School Violence proposal focuses on school safety strategies for Harrisburg School District (“HSD” or “District”) to ensure that all students are safe when they are in school. HSD’s enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year was 6490 students across twelve school buildings. The race/ethnicity of Harrisburg is 97% minority. 52 % of students are black followed by Hispanic or Latino (43%), and the remaining population is comprised of White, Asian or two or more races. Based on HSD 2021 data, over one-third (62%) of the student population exhibited mental health problems to the point of receiving a referral for additional help. The greatest need is having MTSS Coordinators and BCBAs on staff to address the growing problem of students struggling with mental health challenges. Harrisburg’s program areas are #3, 4 and 5 under Category 2. Harrisburg School District’s Project is to improve school security by providing students and teachers with the tools they need to recognize, respond quickly to, and help prevent acts of violence to ensure a positive and safe school climate. This goal will be addressed through the activities to achieve the following Project objectives: Objective 1: At least 90% of school staff members, at least 20 local police officers, and 75% of District students in grades K-12 will increase understanding and knowledge to identify students who are at-risk of mental health problems and a trauma-informed approach to mitigate and respond to potential school violence incidences. Two MTSS Coordinators and two BCBAs will be hired to work with the Project Director and HSD’s Student Services Director using the evidence-based Mental Health First Aid train-the-trainer model to address the targets for this objective. Objective 2: The number of referrals to outside agencies will be reduced by 10% as measured by comparison to the number of referrals made for the past 12 months. The District will implement an initiative appropriate to HSD needs to address the excessive number of referrals through staffing and implementation of a trauma-based approach addressing mental health and the direct connection to school safety. MTSS Coordinators and BCBAs will be fully-aware of best practices when applying trauma-informed strategies to reduce referrals and help students at school. Resources are limited yet the need is overwhelming for training and mental health services for our District, schools, staff, and students to ensure safe schools.