Archive for Thursday, September 25, 2008

USD 491 hires Safe Schools grant project director

September 25, 2008

USD 491 this week hired a longtime Bert Nash Community Mental Heath Center employee as project director of the four-year $3 million Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant they were awarded in July.

The hiring was an important step in beginning to develop programs with the grant that will be pay out $745,816 each year during the next four years.

Hired was Christina Mann, who had worked in different capacities with Bert Nash for about nine years. She will oversee the use of funds and be in an administrative position within the district.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice and Health and Human Services and was part of $74 million in grants awarded to 27 different states as part of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative.

USD 491 was the only school district in the state of Kansas to receive the grant.

"I'm looking forward to working with the district, its partners and the community members to just take full advantage of this opportunity," Mann said. "The timing is really great because Eudora is expanding. It's already shown a great deal of support for the schools with the bond issue passing. There's a lot of growth and infrastructure that needs to come along with growth."

The district received

39 applications for the position and interviewed four applicants with grant partners, including Eudora Police Department, Bert Nash and DCCCA.

No funds have been made available to the district yet, but officials have been told once a project director is in place and some budget revisions are made, then funds likely will be available.

Although nothing has been done yet to develop any new programs, Mann has high hopes for what the grant will mean to Eudora.

"The piece that this grant brings along is to really take a look at what is needed for social and emotional development for children," Mann said. "It really addresses children from birth to 18-years-old. It will make sure that we have the people and resources in place to address the social and emotional development of children. That helps children be better learners, better citizens and contributors to their community."

Superintendent Don Grosdidier said the goal was to sustain the position after the grant sunsets. Mann then would solicit grants, manage the programs that have been started with grant money and maintain the partnerships with community organizations.

Afterall, the solidarity of so many community organizations is one of the main reasons the grant was awarded to the district.

"Community partnerships are essential to the success of students and this is just a great example of what it's meant for us to have those in place," Grosdidier said.

The district must turn in budget revisions by Sept. 29, and Grosdidier said he would be working to meet that deadline now that Mann was hired.

Although it will take about six months for the programs to get up and running, the district still will get a full four years of money because the grant allows funds to be rolled over.

Programs that are created as a result of the grant likely won't begin until January.

"We are very excited about Christina Mann joining our team," Grosdidier said. "She brings not only a strong knowledge and experience in working with a Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative in the past, but also a good base of knowledge and experience with Eudora schools and the community at large. She will be able to use these experiences in implementing the Safe Schools programs to help our neediest kids and families."

Mann will start with the district Oct. 20.

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