Seguin ISD was recently awarded a pair of federal grants that are aimed at bolstering the school district’s safety and student experiences.
“We certainly have an idea of what we can do with these dollars for both grants, but we haven’t specifically outlined how the dollars will be utilized yet,” Seguin ISD superintendent Matthew Gutierrez said.
The first grant to be awarded was the School Climate Transformation Grant on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, which over the next five years, will generate a total of $3.75 million for Seguin ISD.
“It is a very significant dollar amount of $750,000 per year over five years,” Gutierrez said. “We’ve been very creative in how we can support meeting the needs of our students, and with limited people and resources, it really does tie our hands as a district.”
The funds will allow district staff to get more involved in their student’s lives, Gutierrez said.
“With these additional dollars, we are going to be able to put in place people to help support and work one-on-one with students and their families to really get to the root of an issue, before certain behaviors come forth or escalate,” he said. “These funds will also allow us to find a curriculum to support character development. We won’t really begin to outline specifically we’ll do with that money until we have a program director in place to develop a plan for the 2020-2021 school year.”
The district also plans to use the funds to address classroom bullying and to help educate students on developing more social skills in a technology-driven world that pushes students ever more toward solidarity.
“I feel like we are being less engaged with one another as a society because of technology,” he said. “I think students can miss out on learning those critical coping skills and interpersonal skills and so we really need to have people in place to be able to work with students and to work and train teachers to better understand the needs that are coming our way.”
That includes taking different approaches in reaching students, parents and community members, Gutierrez said.
The second grant is $238,114 awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice and is titled the COPS grant by the Office of the School Violence Prevention Program, and is directed toward reinforcing the safety of schools within the district.
“We’re always looking at ways to make our facilities safer to keep our students and employees safe,” he said. “These funds are going to allow us to improve school grounds through evidence-based programs and in moving some paper systems to electronic systems and equipping school doors with the appropriate equipment.”