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Hawkins County BOE approves $96K grant to create ‘positive climate’ in high schools

Staff Report • Jun 5, 2013 at 11:14 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Board of Education approved a three year, $96,000 grant Tuesday that will implement a Vanderbilt University program intended to create a more positive climate at both main high schools.

The “Tennessee Safe and Supportive Schools Climate Plan” grant will focus on anti-bullying, anti-drug, and school safety programs at Cherokee and Volunteer high schools.

Coordinated School Health Director Erika Phillips told the BOE on Tuesday there is no matching funds required for the grant.

“The grant focuses on school climate, so it’s decreasing bullying behavior, decreasing drug and alcohol abuse, and improving relationships between staff and students,” Phillips said

Phillips said bullying and drug/alcohol use will be addressed in a new high school program supported by the grant called “Move to Stand.”

She said 20 percent of the grant will be used to improve security at the school. More specifically, grant funds will be used to purchase new video surveillance cameras for both Cherokee and Volunteer high schools.

Grant funds will also be used to bring counselors into the high schools to work with students who have drug or alcohol issues.

Steve Starnes, assistant director of schools, said the program is part of a Vanderbilt University study that shows the more positive the school climate, the better the effect on school academics and attendance.

“(Positive school climate) increases a student’s ‘belonging’ in that school, decreasing negative behaviors such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, tobacco abuse, and bullying in the classroom,” Starnes said. “Every year you participate in a survey given to the students to gauge their opinions and beliefs about the school and how they feel there. This is a direct way to, as we implement something, to see the affects of it — if it’s producing the desired effects”

In other business Tuesday the BOE:

•Approved special high school courses for 2013-14, including mythology, safety, technical work force literacy (VHS only), and Appalachian folklore (VHS only).

•Approved letting Cherokee High School participate in the ETSU Team Up For Healthy Living “Boundaries to Bridges” program.

•Recognized school maintenance director Bill Shedden, who was named the National School Plant Manager of the Year at the National School Plant Manager’s Association national conference in San Antonio, Texas.

•Approved a soccer camp to be held for rising sixth- through 12th-graders at Cherokee High School June 17-21.

•Approved tenure for Church Hill Middle School special education teacher Wendy Lawson.

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