Reading School District gets state grant for mental health and physical safety issues

·2 min read

Sep. 23—The Reading School District has received a $752,187 grant from the state Commission on Crime and Delinquency to address mental health and physical safety issues districtwide.

Dr. Yamil Sanchez Rivera, chief administrative officer for the district, shared funding details Wednesday at a school board committee of the whole meeting.

"I want to start out by sharing some good news," he said, before launching into an update on some of the safety measures being undertaken by the district.

Half of the $752,187 grant will be used to support mental health programming and half will go toward addressing issues of safety and security.

Mental health initiatives to be funded include establishing a mentor/peer support program, strengthening the district's mental health club, implementing districtwide trauma-informed curriculum and providing evidence-based trauma-informed training for staff members.

Much of the focus will be on expanding the high school's Aevidum Club to the district's other schools, Sanchez Rivera said.

Aevidum is Latin for "I've got your back."

The club was created by students at a small school in Lancaster County after they lost a classmate to suicide. It has become a nationwide movement.

The organization empowers youth to shatter the silence surrounding depression, suicide and other issues facing teens.

"It's doing great work," Sanchez Rivera said. "We think it can be even better and stronger by extending it to not only the middle schools, but also the elementary schools."

The physical safety portion of the grant will be used to continue efforts in the schools, including the purchase of additional security cameras for the elementary schools and door sensors for the Red Knight Accelerated Academy campuses.

Sensors are required for exterior doors on all the district's schools, he said.

If an unauthorized person opens an exterior door, the sensors give an alert and send notifications to the security team.

Open positions

Sanchez Rivera also provided an update on efforts to fill the vacant crossing guard and school safety officers positions.

The city police department, not the school district, oversees the crossing guards.

The city last month approved a contract with All City Management Services for management of the program. The Sante Fe Springs, Calif., company will be responsible for recruiting, training and providing crossing guards at 47 locations.

There are 19 guards and another six are being onboarded, Sanchez Rivera said, noting there are 14 viable candidates for the job.

The district's budget calls for 52 full-time school safety officer positions, 37 of which are filled. Twelve new hires are being integrated.

All four part-time school safety officer and six part-time school police officer positions remain open.

The school board approved weapons scanners for the high school and Central middle school last month.

Sanchez Rivera said the scanners are being installed and all students and staff members will be required to pass through them.