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Oregon also eligible for over $8.2 million in federal funds from Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown today announced that she has dedicated $3.3 million for school safety and violence prevention throughout Oregon. The funding will come from federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) dollars, which were reserved for allocations by governors through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education recently informed the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) that Oregon is eligible for over $8.2 million in federal funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

“Oregon schools should be safe, welcoming, and inclusive places for every student who walks through their doors,” said Governor Brown. “Every student in Oregon deserves to be safe from gun violence. Every parent should be able to send their child to school knowing they will come home safe. Every teacher and school employee should be able to go to work without fear for their safety or that of the students under their care.”

“With this $3.3 million, school districts can build on their existing violence prevention programs and safety-based crisis intervention systems, as well as their programs to prevent bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and intimidation, and to promote student mental health and well-being. Combined with incoming funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, school districts will have new resources to keep students safe.”

“Taking steps to ensure schools are welcoming and inclusive to all is key to making them safe places for students to learn and educators to teach,” said ODE Director Colt Gill. “Through Governor Brown’s investment and this federal funding Oregon can amplify its efforts to make sure every person on school grounds feels included, cared for and ready to learn or teach.”

School Safety and Prevention Specialists increased to 19 full-time positions across all 19 education service districts (ESDs)

Combined with Student Success Act dollars and funding from Adi’s Act, the GEER funds will be used to fund new School Safety and Prevention System (SSPS) specialist positions in education service districts serving all 197 school districts across the state. These positions will continue to expand support to bolster the areas of the state in need of additional resources.

This vital funding will result in 8 new full time positions for those who currently rely on other regions for support and 9 regions will utilize additional staffing to make their positions full time.Two ESDs will continue with their existing full time positions unchanged. The overall result includes an increase from 2 full time postions and 9 part time positions across the state to the equivalent of 19 full time positions at all 19 education service districts that serve Oregon districts and schools statewide.

Over the past several weeks, ODE has worked with education service districts (ESDs) across Oregon to answer questions about how this new funding can be spent, and agreements with the ESDs will be finalized this month. Both ODE and the Oregon Association of Education Service Districts (OAESD) jointly held conversations with ESD teams to learn how best to support implementation of the GEER funds. These sessions were established to provide a clear understanding of how the current SSPS positions have developed and how the potential new staffing will support expansion. The team learned from each ESD about their ongoing challenges, their priorities for the coming year, how they intend to utilize the additional FTE, and any support they may need from ODE and OAESD. Given the unique needs of each region of the state, the identified areas of need may differ and the additional funding from GEER may reflect those priorities. The ESDs are developing staffing plans to make the most of this opportunity.

Additional background on Safe and Inclusive Schools, School Safety and Prevention Specialists

The Safe and Inclusive Schools team at ODE, in partnership with the current School Safety and Prevention Specialists (SSPS), have supported initiatives to address school culture and climate. These initiatives include: an integrated model of mental health with guidance to support centering mental health , collaboration with OHA on Strengthening Mental Health in Education project , and supporting the implementation of “Every Student Belongs” to address threats to school safety related to biased or discriminatory behavior. A bias incident response guide was designed to center equity and restorative practices in instances of bias-based behaviors.

In collaboration with ODE and Oregon Health Authority (OHA), School Safety and Prevention Specialists (SSPS) have also supported the statewide implementation of ODE’s suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention efforts, including Section 36 of the Student Success Act (SSA) and Adi’s Act. These efforts have included implementation of the School Suicide Prevention and Wellness (SSPW) Program through Lines for Life with 5 positions statewide to provide technical assistance and training to districts to improve their suicide prevention efforts through the development of Adi’s Act plans and toolkits for districts of all sizes. The SSPSs have also established crisis response teams of trained staff in ESDs across the state, designed to respond to behavioral or mental health crises in schools and have developed a three-year school suicide prevention research project to identify and develop statewide best practices for policy andimplementation frameworks alongside a resource map of state initiatives, services, and supports in partnership with the Alliance to Prevent Suicide.

The SSPSs will continue to work collaboratively across regions, districts, schools, and community organizations to provide the most well-rounded and relevant practices and support available––now with a full-time staff member leading efforts at each of the 19 ESDs. This regional-based team of Specialists continues to serve as the primary conduit to support districts and schools as well as an immediate resource to districts and schools who require real-time crisis intervention. This network of care, relational trust, and support are the cornerstones of Oregon’s School Safety and Prevention System.

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