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CHCCS receives $200,000 in new school safety grant from NCDPI

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Last month, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools received a $200,000  grant from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Center for Safer Schools for distribution to two different departments in the district to improve student safety.

The N.C. General Assembly allotted $35 million to CFSS for school safety grants in its latest budget, and CHCCS was one of the 230 school districts and charter schools in the state that will receive funding.

Karen Fairley, the executive director for the Center for Safer Schools, said CFSS was created following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. She said the center works to support public school districts through training, technical assistance and resources that ensure safety. 

Fairley said the school safety grants are an annual grant that public school units apply for. Fairley said schools applying for the grant must include their request, as well as substantial data and numbers to confirm their need.

She said the grant money can be used for safety equipment, services for students in crisis or training to prevent school violence.

“I think that our districts do an amazing job of utilizing funding to address their own individual needs,” she said. “So, I am excited that the districts are happy.”

Fairley said, this year, there was $139 million in requested funding, so many schools did not receive the amount they asked for — since there was only $35 million available. Other nearby districts, like Orange County Schools and Wake County Schools, got over $100,000 more in funding than CHCCS. OCS received more than $20 more per student than CHCCS.

Some districts, including Durham Public Schools, received no grant money.

Tracy Holloway, the safe schools director for CHCCS, said the funding will be split between the Safety Department and the Student Support and Wellness Department.

Holloway said the Safety Department at CHCCS will use the funds for a summer safety summit, which will include active scooter and incident management training, alongside emergency operation plan preparation. He said principals, schools crisis teams, law enforcement and other emergency management employees will attend.

Janet Cherry, the director of system of care for CHCCS, said the Student Support and Wellness Department plans to use the funding to expand access for their mental health outpatient services. 

She said this option allows students who are in need of therapy or medication management to receive help, especially if they are from families who may not be able to cover medical expenses.

“The hope is that we will be able to use the funds to really help those students who typically would not receive services unless there's an outlet or funding source for them,” she said. 

Cherry said they also plan to use the grant for training staff to provide youth mental health first-aid training to high schoolers, alongside other staff members. She said she hopes students will develop strategies to address issues with their peers and mental health.

Charlos Banks, the chief of school support and wellness for CHCCS, said mental and physical health are both a part of safety in schools. She said this grant allows there to be access to equitable resources for students.

“The priority of our district has extended more so around safety to also look at it from not only a physical standpoint, but also an emotional standpoint,” she said.

Holloway said the district applied for the grant last year and received less than they did this year. He said they used the money to upgrade the security cameras in every school and to update the hardware on the doors to allow them to lock faster.

He said the grant allows the district to create a safe learning environment for students.

“It will just help us to create a culture of safety in our schools,” he said. 

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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