Federal funding for school safety programs ending

Federal money used to support antiviolence and antidrug programs in schools will run out this year in School District 51.

The district had $40,000 in federal money left to spend on bullying-prevention programs, school-safety training for teachers and related expenses this year. The money was carried over from an allocation last year of $149,080 under The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, more commonly known as Title IV.

The last year for Title IV nationwide was 2010.

Funding for drug-prevention programs in the school district already had been eliminated because of law-enforcement budget cuts, according to District 51 Safety Coordinator Tim Leon. But safe-school initiatives previously funded by Title IV may be in trouble.

District 51 Prevention Coordinator Cathy Haller said some programs needed the funds once only, such as an anti-bullying curriculum that can be reused. Other endeavors, such as teacher training and a positive-behavior support program, which encourages kids to behave well in school by offering them incentives, may have to cut back or seek grants.

In other cases, administrators have plans to make do without Title IV money. Counselors have agreed to take over a Youth Crime Stoppers program without compensation, and the district may conduct some teacher training online.

Whenever funding for safe-school programs is compromised, a district “takes a chance of risking safety at some point,” Leon said. He said he’s more worried about how state cuts to the district’s general fund might affect safety than he is about Title IV going away. The district reduced school resource officers from 12 in 2009-2010 to six this school year.

Leon said he is not sure whether the district will be able to offer in fall 2011 the $100,000 it paid local law-enforcement agencies annually to provide resource officers in 2009-10 and 2010-11. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, which receives the money along with the Grand Junction and Fruita police departments, doesn’t rely on the district’s donation, and it plans to fund one school resource officer at Central High School next year, same as this year, sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said

As for bringing back the five officers assigned to school-resource duty in 2009-10, Benjamin said, “There would have to be a significant increase in revenue” to make that possible.


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