The Somerville Public Schools is required, as a condition of receiving Title IV block grant funding from the Department of Education, to have a local plan for its use of Safe and Drug Free Schools (aka Title IV) money. The following local plan was approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the use of funds in FY2010:
Given available discipline and YRBS data, improving the District's elementary violence prevention/social competency instruction and school-wide positive behavior systems has been a priority for the Somerville Public Schools over the last three years. In FY10 the District will continue to roll-out consistent, school-wide violence prevention instruction and school-wide culture change efforts. These efforts will include:
Staff Professional Development
- Train at least three staff members to become a Second Step trainer for grades K-5
- Provide two Second Step trainings for teachers and other staff serving students in grades 2-5
- Provide classroom coaching to teachers implementing Second Step in grades 2-8
- Support second part of Healey School Open Circle teacher training (Grades K-4)
- Offer training in Second Step and use of the District's peer mediation program for (a) paraprofessionals, (b) after-school staff, and (c) cafeteria workers
- Support evidence-based professional development training for parochial school staff on bullying prevention in the school environment
- Offering staff opportunities to attend professional development offered locally and regionally through membership in Middlesex Partnerships for Youth.
Complementary Positive Behavior Intervention System training will be supported through the District's ARRA IDEA grants, and the District's on-going school culture change work with the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations will be supported by Title IIA.
The District's Second Step/Open Circle implementation plan called for the launch of a renewed, school-wide instructional program in grades 6-8 in FY09 and grades 2-5 in FY10. In FY10 the District will use IDEA ARRA funds to continue to purchase middle grades curriculum kits to reduce the need for sharing and thus increase the implementation of the materials in the classroom. The District will use Title IV/Safe and Drug Free Schools funds to purchase additional Grades K-5 Second Step kits. Funds will be set aside to purchase instructional materials for teachers in Grades K-4 at the Healey School who are implementing Open Circle.
Family Outreach and Engagement
An area of deficit addressed in the District's Corrective Action Plan following its FY09 Coordinated Program Review is family outreach and engagement. In FY10 the District will:
- Give schools mini-grants (up to $250) to support school-specific family outreach and engagement plans developed by the local implementation teams. Ideas that have been identified in the end-of-year program implementation evaluations include (a) having a Second Step information bulletin board in the school with regular updates on themes and classroom activities to support violence prevention, and (b) working with the PTA to host a family event or educational program intended to extend school-wide social competency, positive behavior intervention and violence prevention activities in the home.
- Engage Middlesex Partnerships for Youth in delivering at least one community-wide training on a violence prevention/alcohol-tobacco-drug prevention theme.
- Provide support and information to principals so they can include a "violence prevention" column in their monthly newsletters sent home to every family.
- Include a social competency block every three months in the District-wide email newsletter.
In FY09, the District pilot tested a Program Implementation Checklist. Data provided by principals and their social competency support teams annually is used to inform the development of the local plan and set budget priorities, and set local goals for expanding program implementation beyond the classroom. The District will begin using a Classroom checklist to assess how the selected social competency programs are being implemented. This data will be (a) used to identify how classroom supports might be improved to support full implementation of the classroom instruction, and (b) cross tabulated with discipline and YRBS data as possible to identify if variations in implementation has an impact on incidents of violence in school and the community. The latter data will be reported to the School Committee and other constituencies annually. Classroom support data will be used to target instructional improvements as needed.
ALCOHOL, TOBACCO and OTHER DRUG (ATOD) PREVENTION
This is an identified area of weakness for the Somerville Public Schools. In FY10 the District proposes to engage a representative group of staff and community experts in reviewing available data on youth ATOD use, identify risk and protective factors which pose the greatest points of leverage for the District and its partners to promote change, and to develop a plan for ATOD prevention which includes classroom instruction aligned with health and, as relevant, other curriculum standards. The District will strive to engage youth and families in this process by engaging the community anti-drug coalition, Somerville Cares About Prevention, as partner. This process will inform the development of the FY11 Local Plan.
In its Corrective Action Plan submitted to the Department on July 29, 2009, the District pledged to make YRBS and other data indicators (e.g. discipline data, mediation program data) available to principals, social competency implementation teams and school improvement councils to inform the development of the annual School Improvement. This data will also be used to set benchmark goals in the District Improvement Plan approved and monitored by the Somerville School Committee. Progress towards these benchmarks are reported at least twice a year to the School Committee and made available to the community through open and televised meetings, on the Web and through press releases sent to the local media. All School Improvement Plans and the District Improvement Plan are made available to the community and staff.
In addition, in FY10 the District will host its first annual comprehensive school health program meeting intended to engage multiple sectors of the community, including parents/guardians (e.g. PTA representatives, ELL Parent Liaisons), community partners (e.g. Somerville Cares About Prevention, CASPAR Youth Services), and government agencies (e.g. Somerville Health Department, Somerville Police Department) in (a) reviewing available evaluation data about the safe and drug free schools program, (b) reviewing District priorities for continued improvements in the upcoming year, and (c) soliciting recommendations for additional improvements based on analysis of data and progress, and community need/interest and activities.