WUFT News

Alachua County Schools Receive Competitive Counseling Grant

By on November 12th, 2013

On-site social workers will be joining four Alachua County schools, thanks to a nearly $1 million federal grant.

Project Fortify is a competitive grant, also known as The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Grant, administered by the Department of Education.  Alachua County was one of 35 school districts in the country, and the only one in Florida, to receive the grant. There were more than 500 applicants, according to Everett Caudle, director of grants procurement and project development for Alachua County Public Schools.

The schools – Lake Forest, Rawlings, Metcalfe and Idylwild – will receive the money in increments for three years. The school district will receive about $317,000 the first year and about $331,000 the second and third years, Caudle said.

The schools were chosen because of the number of at-risk students, or students with an excessive number of absences and behavioral problems. Most of the students at these schools receive free or reduced lunch.

The goal, Caudle said, is to create an environment where students are more focused on class, rather than hunger or turmoil at home.

“Most of the people who work at the school know there’s a population at that school that could use extra help,” Caudle said. “Academics are always an extension of better behavior and attendance. The goal of this grant is to work on something that doesn’t always get dealt with.”

Each school already has a guidance counselor available, but often times, their time is consumed by testing, meetings and managing different programs.

“We’re trying to improve a set of services where there is a high level of need,” said Bill Goodman, supervisor of guidance services for Alachua County Public Schools.

The counselor-to-student ratio at each school is about 400- or 500-to-1, Goodman said. Having a social worker at each school will allow for students to receive more attention.

Two psychologists will rotate among the four schools in addition to the social workers. The psychologists will identify students in need of special services such as academic or behavioral intervention.

District staff will attend a mandatory meeting this week in Washington, D.C. to discuss implementing the grant. When they return, hiring the social workers and psychologists will be a top priority.

Patricia Phillips, principal of W.A. Metcalfe Elementary School, said the grant would allow guidance counselors to create small groups of students for counseling.

“I think to be able to focus on just being a student and not everything else that’s going on would really help the kids,” Phillips said. “We have a lot of little adults around here. We know they carry a lot of heavy things.”

Attendance and tardiness are Metcalfe’s biggest problems. Phillips said she hopes the social worker will help parents understand the importance of kids being in school, being on time and not leaving early.

“My ultimate hope is that it’s far reaching that once the grant is over, our parents already will know where they can get help or what type of help they can get for themselves and for their children,” Phillips said. “Bottom line, I want (students) to not even know there are adult issues.”


This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Education

The Office for Student Financial Affairs offers many financial aid
options to provide students with resources and information to understand the rights 
incurred when they receive financial aid. The University of Florida office is located in Criser Hall on Union Road.

New Legislation Lowers Cost of Florida Prepaid College Plans

Beginning Sept. 20, families that purchase a Florida Prepaid College Plan may receive refund benefits, price reductions and waived enrollment fees. Payment reductions will be applied to Prepaid Plans and refund checks will be processed and mailed within four to six weeks after.


Miranda Larkin, 16, stands in a Oakleaf High School bathroom after changing into the dress code violation outfit given to her by the school nurse. This is the photo she sent to her mother, Dianna. The yellow T-shirt and red pants have "Dress Code Violation" written on them.

Clay County Mother Files Complaint Over Dress Code Violation Punishment

A Clay County mother has filed a complaint with FERPA after her daughter was told to wear a pair of red pants and a bright yellow T-shirt with the words “Dress Code Violation” visibly printed on both. The punishment came after an Oakleaf High School teacher said the student’s skirt was too short.


Backlash Leads to Cancellation of FAIR Testing

According to a letter from the Alachua County Superintendent of Schools Owen Roberts, FAIR testing for students in kindergarten through the second grade has been cancelled for the year. The test will be temporarily replaced by an observational sheet for each student.


ACT Scores

Alachua County Juniors Score Higher Than State Peers On ACT

Alachua County Public School juniors continue to outperform their peers in the state on the ACT college entrance exam in 2014 and almost achieve the national average score by students who are graduating. The average overall score for Alachua County juniors is [...]


A teacher at Lawton Chiles is refusing to administer a standardized test to her students. School administrators encourage parents who are concerned about standardized testing to reach out to state legislators.

Alachua County Teacher Refuses To Give Standardized Test

An Alachua County teacher is refusing to administer a state-mandated test to her students.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments