Helping Uvalde recover
The U.S. Department of Education has allocated $1.5 million to the Uvalde (Texas) school district to help it cope with the aftermath of school shooting that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers.
The School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) grant provides money for activities addressing the needs of people directly affected by the shooting.
“Such activities include mental health services for staff and students, and overtime pay for teachers, counselors, and security staff, and may take place over the summer in the form of additional summer programming,” the education department said in a news release.
“We have committed to providing the Uvalde community with every available resource they may require from the Department,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said. “Today’s release of these emergency funds is an initial step that will be followed by technical assistance and on-the-ground supports in the months and years to come.”
Texas education officials say they will check hundreds of thousands of exterior school doors this summer to make sure they lock properly
The Texas Tribune reports that Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath testified during a state senate hearing that his agency will review external entry points of every school in Texas—about 340,000 doors. The review will evaluate whether door repairs may be needed to secure campuses.
Morath was appearing before a Texas Senate committee looking into the May shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, during which a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.
The Uvalde shooter entered Robb Elementary through a back door, according to school surveillance footage. Authorities said a teacher had closed the door but the automatic lock failed.
Texas has more than 1,200 school districts more than 3,000 campuses, but Morath promised lawmakers that examinations of all doors will be completed this summer.
Panic buttons for Palm Beach teachers
The Palm Beach County (Fla.) School Board has approved a new security alert system that give every school-based staff member a badge with a panic button that can be pushed in an emergency.
WPTV-TV reports that the panic button system, which also is being used in other Florida school districts, will cost Palm Beach a little over $2 million for the first year. The system will immediately alert school police and administration where a panic button has been activated. The district hopes to have the system in place for the 2022-23 school year.
The Palm Beach district has about 13,000 teachers among its more than 22,000 employees.
School board approval of the system came a few weeks after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, but plans for the system were moving forward before the Texas shooting focused greater attention on campus security.
Palm Beach already had a cell phone app in place for a panic alarm system to comply with a state law enacted after the deadly 2018 shooting attacks at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. District officials say the panic button system will further enhance school security.
District Superintendent Mike Burke says the panic buttons will be tied into the 911 system so municipalities can respond to emergencies quickly.
Kansas City (Mo.) district considers school consolidation to free up resourcesThe Kansas City (Mo.) district is considering closing as many as 12 schools with low enrollment to free up money to update classrooms and expand programs.
The Kansas City Star reports that officials are evaluating how best to address inefficiencies and inequities caused by too many outdated school buildings operating under capacity.
District leaders say students in some under-enrolled schools are missing out on having full-time music or art teachers, as well as certain services, extracurriculars or even a football team. And although some campuses have modern upgrades, others are outdated; for instance, some high school science classrooms do not have sinks to use during lab experiments.
If as many as 12 schools are closed or consolidated, officials say Kansas City schools would be able to expand curriculum, services and other opportunities to all schools; add foreign language, instrumental music and science labs into elementary schools; increase elective courses in middle and high schools; offer project-based learning at all schools; improve staff development, offer programs and services such as world language and fine arts courses at all schools; and expanding non-traditional school options, such as evening classes, for students who need them.
If fewer schools are closed, the district would not be able to carry out many of those improvements.
The administration intends to recommend a specific plan this fall to the school board.
Maryland district hires Kansas City school administrator as superintendent
The Anne Arundel County (Md.) school board has appointed Mark Bedell as superintendent of the 83,000-student district.
Bedell, a former Anne Arundel County resident and a former assistant superintendent in the Baltimore County (Md.) district, has led the Kansas City (Mo.) district for six years — the longest tenured superintendent in that district in more than 50 years. In Kansas City, a district of about 14,000 students, Bedell was recognized for his role in restoring the district’s full accreditation, closing achievement gaps, and raising the graduation rate.
Bedell agreed to a four-year contract with Anne Arundel County that will pay him $305,000 a year.
“I will serve each and every single one of our kids with a high degree of care and concern and we will make sure that our ultimate goal is how to we move this school district to become a top five school district in the state," Bedell said.
He is replacing George Arlotto, who has led the Anne Arundel County district since 2014.