Mental health program, recommendations before State Board of Education

More than 600 students have been served in the first few months of a new public school mental health pilot program, according to a report by the Kansas State Department of Education. 

The report will be received Tuesday during the monthly meeting of the State Board of Education. Here is a link to the board’s agenda and backup materials. 

The Mental Health Intervention Program was approved by the Legislature last session as a one-year, $10 million pilot program. Discussion on whether to continue the program, and if so, whether to expand it, will likely occur during the legislative session that starts Monday.  

Nine school districts, partnering with Community Mental Health Centers, are participating in the program during the current school year. The districts are Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka, Garden City, Parsons, Abilene, Chapman, Herington and Solomon. 

From July 1 through Oct. 15, which covers the first two months of the school year, more than 600 students were referred for services and more than half of those showed improvements, according to the report.  

KSDE officials are expected to provide further details on the program to the board during the meeting. 

The board also will receive recommendations from the Kansas School Mental Health Advisory Council, which has identified two areas that need further attention — awareness and prevention of child abuse and suicide. 

On Monday, newly elected and re-elected board members will be sworn into office. Those are Janet Waugh (incumbent), District 1; Michelle Dombrosky, District 3; Jean Clifford, District  5; Ben Jones, District 7 and Jim Porter (incumbent), District 9. On Wednesday, board members will attend the State of the State address by incoming governor Laura Kelly.

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