Area districts receive funding for safety, mental health support

Apr. 29—Area schools will receive nearly $1 million in state grants to support safety measures and mental health services, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency has announced.

The grants were part of $47 million approved by the commission's School Safety and Security Committee last week.

The awards include nearly $596,000 for Crawford Central School District, $173,000 for PENNCREST School District, and $158,716 for Conneaut School District. Crawford Tech will also receive $70,000.

The funding was divided into three categories: noncompetitive mental health grants, formula-based safety and security grants, and competitive school safety and security grants.

Much of the award for Crawford Central — $414,000 — came in the competitive category. The funding, Superintendent Jenn Galdon said in an email, will support the installation and enhancement of security systems and cameras; support and purchase of emergency radios; the development of partnerships with local law enforcement for a school resource officer; and contracted personnel to support the mental health needs of students.

"School security equipment will play a crucial role in enhancing safety, providing evidence for investigations, deterring misconduct, and reassuring staff, students, and parents of a secure learning environment," Galdon added.

Crawford Central also received $142,000 designated for a range of programs and interventions designed to support the psychological well-being and academic success of students.

"The goals of these services," Galdon said, "are to promote positive mental health, enhance coping skills, mitigate risk factors, and foster a supportive school environment conducive to learning and emotional development. These services include the continued support of in-house mental health counselors."

Among the top benefits for Conneaut School District, according to Curriculum Director Adam Jardina, the funding will enable the continued employment of a full-time mental health counselor. Having the position, Jardina said in an email, "has aided in students realizing academic, social, and emotional development and success."

Conneaut will also use a portion of the funding to purchase Bark for Schools, a content-monitoring service that enables the district to monitor school-issued devices and accounts for suicidal ideation, threats of violence, bullying and other concerning online interactions.

Other schools in the county will also benefit from the awards, which complete the $155 million school safety grants program package appropriated in the state's 2023-24 budget and issued by the School Safety and Security Committee in January.

Titusville Area School District will receive nearly $608,000, including $450,000 in competitive security funding. Jamestown Area School District will receive $135,000.

In a statement announcing the awards, Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, who chairs the committee that approved the grants, said the administration is committed to supporting security and mental health support in schools.

"As a father, I understand how much Pennsylvania parents care about keeping their kids safe at school and healthy in body and mind," Davis said. "Our kids are facing so many pressures, and our schools are dealing with significant challenges."

The attention to student security and mental health in Harrisburg and Washington has had an impact locally, according to Jardina.

"A continued focus in funding school safety measures at the federal and state levels has greatly increased our ability at the local level to implement meaningful interventions to help protect our students," he said. "Keeping our students safe has always and will continue to be our top priority."

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at