Less than one month after capturing Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High on Valentine’s Day, Florida lawmakers authorized more than $69 million greenbacks to faculties earmarked for mental fitness.
This was the first time that becomes ever accomplished,” stated Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R) of Naples.
The regulation stipulated few regulations on how school districts could use the money. School districts needed to post a mental fitness plan to the state, and as a minimum, 90% of the cash had to be spent on evidence-based totally mental health care to students, according to the law.
But with sixty-seven college districts around the kingdom, “there are many distinctive approaches you could interpret it,” stated Dr. Mike Desjardins, Executive Director of Student Support for the Charlotte County school district. Dr. Mike Desjardins, Executive Director of Student Support for the Charlotte County faculty district.
The Charlotte County faculty district became allotted one of the smallest amounts- just over $400,000 in a country mental fitness price range to enhance its intellectual fitness services. Roughly 1/2 the cash has already been spent on new intellectual fitness hires, said Desjardins.
“For the first time in a long term, we have a complete-time social worker in any respect of our excessive faculties,” stated Desjardins, who worked with the Superintendent to determine how to spend the district’s portion of the finances. But Dr. Desjardins also says figuring out a way to spend the cash has been difficult since the regulation didn’t offer good guidance on how to use it.
“You don’t need to make a screw up by the twist of fate and get gigged on it. You need to make sure you’re spending the cash the way the lawmakers supposed.” When requested what he believed can be construed as an incorrect manner of spending the cash, Dr. Desjardins replied, “It became crystal clear in the bill which you’re alleged to provide direct offerings to college students. Incorrect is using the cash to go on journeys, shopping for furnishings on your office, hiring personnel that would be deemed now not intellectual health-related,” he said.
Records screen other school districts have used a part of its finances to hire a clerical workforce, including a “confidential” secretary to handle scholar mental fitness facts. Since November, we’ve requested nearly a dozen college districts across the country for info on how those districts have spent the brand new mental fitness funds allocated as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act. We requested finances line reports and receipts for purchases made with the money. All the districts we contacted have used most of their investment thus far, hiring new intellectual health specialists and engaging in intellectual fitness schooling.
Mental Health Money
Other costs we observed range from journey and gasoline to supplies which includes copy paper and computers. One district used its intellectual fitness funding to purchase 20 new PC systems for simply over $sixteen 000. “We didn’t tell them how to spend it,” stated Florida Senator Passidomo. She helped push lawmakers to approve the money remaining spring.
Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R) of Naples.
“What we said turned into you realize what the needs are to your network. All we’d like you to do is to create a plan,” she defined. Those plans need to be submitted through each school district some weeks after the brand new college year commenced inside the fall. But FL Representative Byron Donalds sees the need to clarify the spending policies in the future. “It’s always thrilling when districts have cash at their disposal, what they do,” he stated. “We may also must both retool, tighten up, maybe amplify however we need to make certain schools are becoming the satisfactory bang in your buck,” he stated.
FL Representative Byron Donalds (R) of Naples.
And making sure cash to assist college students in a disaster is being used to do just that. I’m now not an accountant; I’m no longer an intellectual fitness expert,” stated Dr. Desjardins in Charlotte County. “Guidance is favored. There’s no doubt approximately that. We need a bit a little bit of it.