La Moille School District outlines plan for its cut of $6.86 million mental health grant

Only 102 grant recipients were approved nationwide

School Counselor Katie Shevokas spoke to the school board Thursday and outlined the district’s plans for the funds moving forward.

The La Moille School Board met Thursday for the first time since it was informed that it was one of seven local schools that would be receiving parts of a $6.86 million federal mental health grant.

La Moille partnered with Aruka Institute of Health and performed much of the ground work to obtain the grant for the group of schools that also includes Bureau Valley High School, De Pue School District 103, Hall High School, Mendota High School, Princeton High School and Ottawa High School.

“We called all of the ROE’s in the schools and none of them could write the grant, so we decided that we would,” La Moille School Counselor Katie Shevokas said. “Usually you get six months (to write the grant). We got three weeks.”

The overall purpose of the grant is to increase capacity of school-based mental health providers and increase access for youth, ages 12 through 18, to timely and appropriate mental health intervention in participating schools. Funds will be dispersed over a five year period.

Nationwide, 500 groups applied for the grant while 242 applications made it to a final review and only 102 groups were awarded the grant in the end.

Shevokas spoke to the school board Thursday and outlined the district’s plans for the funds moving forward.

In the La Moille School District, the funds will allow for the employment of a full time school social worker, professional development opportunities, social skills workshop field trip, social skills classroom toolboxes (16), SEL screener and curriculum and a prevention educator two times a month.

The grant also enables the district to provide parent outreach, school supplies, hygiene kits and self-care kits for students K-12th grade for the next five years.

The district’s staff will also be able to take part in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and receive youth mental health first aid training.

“This is huge for us,” La Moille Superintendent Jay K. McCracken said. “Most importantly for our student health but also fiscally this is great for the district. It is such exciting news.”

Between the seven schools involved, this grant will create a total of five school social workers, a school counselor, a behavior interventionist, a school psychologist, SEL curriculum site licenses for four schools, coping skills workshops, educational supplies and much more.

With more work needed as funds begin to roll out to the eligible schools, McCracken and Shevokas stated they will continue to keep the board updated as more information becomes available.

For this ongoing project, Dawn Conerton of Arukah will serve as Project Director and Shevokas will serve as School SEL Liaison.