RSU 10 to use federal grant to meet students' mental health needs

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MEXICO — Regional School Unit 10 expects to receive $200,000 in federal funding in each of the next five years to help students with mental health needs, according to Superintendent Deb Alden.

The money will come from a Maine AWARE grant, which would include funding for a community project manager, the purchase of specialized curriculums and a behavior-assessment system and treatment and consultation services for students and their families, according to Special Education Director Clarissa Fish.

The grant is from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and administered by the Maine Department of Education.

Alden explained the grant at Tuesday night’s meeting of the RSU 10 board of directors.

“It’s a really intensive project,” Alden said. “The idea behind it is to be able to go through the process and set up a system so that the mental health needs of our students from pre-K to (grade) 12 can be met.”

In other matters, Oxford County Sheriff Jim Theriault met with the board on a proposal to hire a school resource officer for Buckfield Junior-Senior High School and Hartford-Sumner Elementary School in Sumner.

The district might also hire a resource officer for Mountain Valley High School in Rumford.

The contract proposed at Tuesday night’s meeting calls for a prorated budget of $43,301 for the school-year school resource officer, to be filled by a part-time deputy at a rate of $25 per hour. The school resource officer would be at a school six hours a day for 177 days.

According to a first-draft of the policy, the school resource officer would:

• Provide support and assistance to the school administration and staff to maintain a safe and constructive learning environment;

• Enforce local, state and federal laws; and

• Serve as a resource to administrators and staff concerning law enforcement and child-welfare issues.

“The right officer to me is huge,” school board Director Kathy Sutton of Roxbury said. “This could be a huge failure if we did not have the right person for this job.”

Theriault agreed.

The school board is scheduled to vote Oct. 22 on whether to hire the school resource officer.

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Oxford County Sheriff Jim Theriault, center, meets Tuesday with the Regional School Unit 10 board of directors to discuss the district’s proposal to hire a student resource officer for Buckfield Junior-Senior High School and Hartford-Sumner Elementary School in Sumner. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times)

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