City school board seeks health grant

Grant money would help combat drug problems facing youths

With attention increasing on the prevalence of drug abuse affecting school systems, the Marietta City Schools Board of Education spent part of Monday’s meeting discussing grant opportunities and new programming to be offered to help teachers steer their students clear of harmful substances.

“Those are the things that keep us up at night,” said Bill Hutchinson, board president. “Our kids’ safety and the drugs.”

The board authorized a memorandum of understanding in support of the Hopewell Health Centers and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in applying for a rural health grant.

The grant, offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Rural Health Policy, was designed with key clinical priorities of serious mental illness, substance abuse and childhood obesity in rural communities in mind.

“This is more to show our support of Hopewell as they apply for this grant for behavioral health,” explained Superintendent Will Hampton. “And it ties in nicely with another grant that we are supporting that’s big Nationwide (Children’s Hospital) money for the $36 million Promise Neighborhoods grant. The two would work together to help combat the drugs affecting our school kids now.”

Hampton told parents present at the meeting that these grants had come up as opportunities to support only recently but seem to fall in line with the recently passed county-wide behavioral health levy.

Parents in the crowd asked what’s being done right now by the school system to combat the opioid epidemic in the area. Hampton shared an upcoming training the state will be providing free of charge to at least 50 teachers of the system in February.

“The data for this PAX training is incredible, it’s arming teachers with the tools to handle behavioral issues we’re seeing that we have never seen to this extreme before,” Hampton said. “And normally they would have our teachers travel to attend but I got them to come here and we already have the teachers on board to take the training.”

The board also discussed the upcoming move of Building Bridges to Careers from the Armory downtown to the west side in the old Tenney & Associates building on Lancaster Street. The nonprofit will be expanding its services of the Epicenter to include a makerspace after the first of the year.

The next meeting of the board will take place Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the Board of Education building on Academy Drive.