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Alabama gets federal grant for rural school safety initiative | #schoolsaftey


university of alabama

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Kennedy Payne

A $38 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice is aiming to improve school climate and reduce school violence nationwide. This can work to prevent anything from bullying to reducing conflict and gun violence. $1.2 million of this grant was awarded to the University of Alabama.

The university’s Bama Stop program will work with 14 high schools in six of West Alabama’s most rural counties.

UA Center for Community Based Partnership Director of Planning and Assessment for Community Engagement Daniela Susnara said their goal is making school safer and students healthier..

“We’ll work with high school counselors, high school administrators, different multidisciplinary teams from those schools to see what they already have in place to improve their school climate and keep their schools safe, but also offering them resources and support to better develop their plans or provide additional trainings,” she said. “It’s really all going to be based on the current needs of the schools.”

Susnara said the idea of the BAMASTOP Program was a joint effort.

“I work in the Division of Community Affairs, but we are also working with the College of Education here on campus, the University of West Alabama regional in-service center, as well as the College for Human and Environmental Sciences,” Susnara said. “All of us work with high schools, educators and families in different capacities.”

The partnership between the programs came about after an increase in school violence was noticed.

“As we saw the year unfold last year, school violence has unfortunately been an ongoing trend, and a trend that has continued to climb. It has become an initiative of the state. Governor Kay Ivey has put forth initiatives, ideas, and policies to improve that, but we wanted to be able to give our local schools, our districts that are close to home, just some hands-on support in whatever way that they need.”

Susnara said the approach for each school will be different.

“For many of our rural schools there is not a one-size-fits-all approach on how to improve school climate, or how to reduce school violence depending on what they’re looking at every day,” Susnara said.

The program not only aims to prevent gun violence and bullying, but will also provide substitute teachers with support and training if a situation were to escalate.

“Many times when substitute teachers are working in a classroom or working in a school that might not be the school that they work at every time they substitute teach, so they might not be familiar with that school’s emergency protocols or may not be familiar with the specific ins and outs with the building that they’re in,” Susnara said. “We want to make sure that based on the school that the substitute teachers are going into, they are prepared and ready if a situation were to escalate.”





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