Grant received by MJUSD a 'game-changer' for student wellness

·4 min read

May 25—The Marysville Joint Unified School District recently received a $13.5 million grant from the California Community Schools Public Partnership (CCSPP) to develop wellness activities and programs at several school sites within the district.

With the rise of social media and changes in some student behavior as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, wellness has become a focus for schools not only in California but nationally as well. To meet those challenges, Marysville Joint Unified School District applied for and received grant funding to continue its focus on the mental and physical well being of students.

According to the district, the CCSPP grant application was prepared based on the needs of individual school sites in the district. Of the 23 schools that make up Marysville Joint Unified School District, 11 were included in the grant application and 10 were funded. Those receiving funding include: Lindhurst High School, South Lindhurst High School, Yuba Feather, Kynoch, Anna McKenney, Yuba Gardens, Linda School, Ella School, Cedar Lane and Johnson Park.

Overall, the California State Board of Education approved $750 million in community schools implementation grants proposed by the California Department of Education. According to the state, these grant approvals mark the largest single investment in community schools anywhere in the nation.

Marysville Joint Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Fal Asrani recently wrote about the grant approval in a recent column that appeared in the Appeal.

"MJUSD has been awarded 13.5 million dollars to help design schools as the community hub and bring resources and programs to improve the learning environment," Asrani wrote. "As a hub, both the school and the community partners will work together to improve the lives of students, staff and families through coordination of services and resources."

Asrani said each school that applied identified their priority focus areas and an action plan.

"The members of the School Site Council (SSC), English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC,) and school leadership teams were equally involved in the discussions related to the development of this project at each site," Asrani wrote.

The district said that since 2022, wellness has become a "major focus" of the work done at the district level. Officials said that the district believes that if students, adults and families are physically and mentally well, then they will be able to move to the next level of success in their educational and professional lives.

Asrani said that according to districtwide data, students within the district are struggling with the same behavioral and academic struggles as other students in the nation.

"We have noticed that discipline and chronic absences have doubled since schools have reopened following the COVID-19 pandemic closures," Asrani said in a statement. "Fighting, aggressive behaviors, defiance, vaping, etc., has resulted in a substantial rise in suspension rates as well."

Asrani previously said the CCSPP grant funds will be used to design support services at each approved school site to achieve these main goals: — To improve attendance and academic preparation and decreased discipline — Identify new community partnerships to support schools in a consistent manner to bridge the gaps in home-school partnerships — Design academic and co-curricular support for a successful transition to high school and college & career readiness. — Provide and expand parent education to support the capacity of families

"Receiving the CCSPP grant will be a game-changer for students, staff, families and our community," Jim Hayes, principal of Yuba Gardens School, said in a statement. "I am looking forward to working with all of our stakeholders as we implement this important work. Creating a Wellness Center with all the different services that it will provide will be amazing and I can't wait to get started."

Along with establishing wellness opportunities through grant funding, the district's board of trustees and Asrani recently brought community leaders together to sign a community pledge called "Say Something, Do Something."

The pledge, according to the district, is considered a "call to action" that coordinates countywide efforts to address wellness in both adults and students in Yuba County.

"With all schools experiencing an increased need for resources and support, this pledge signifies that our community is now working as a team to help our students and families," the district said.