Salamanca City School District Receives $1M Mental Health Grant

SALAMANCA – The Salamanca City Central School district is the proud recipient of a nationwide, three-year mental health grant.

According to Robert Breidenstein, Salamanca superintendent, the district is one of only 35 in the country to receive the nearly $1 million grant.

Breidenstein said the district originally applied for the grant approximately 15 months ago, upon noticing an increasing number of students and families struggling with mental-health issues. While initially informed that Salamanca would not receive the grant, Breidenstein said he recently received notification that the opposite was the case.

“We found out on Friday last week that we did get it,” Breidenstein said. “It’s a huge accomplishment for the district.”

Breidenstein said plans are in place for the district to bring in several specialists to serve multiple needs in the district, as well as provide significant amounts of professional development training, resources and community outreach.

“We’ll be bringing in a licensed clinical therapist to help families, and we’re really excited to be bringing that on. We’re also bringing on a consultant therapist for child mental health concerns. We’ll be adding a mental health support person who has experience. (They are) not a therapist or psychiatrist, but more of an intervention specialist to get families and children in the right direction,” Breidenstein said.

Additionally, the Salamanca Board of Education also met last week to discuss several matters. Breidenstein said there were four things of significance on the agenda.

Firstly, the board set the tax warrant amount for the district, which reflected no increase over last year. Breidenstein said this is the second consecutive year the district has managed to maintain a 0 percent tax increase.

“That’s something positive and productive,” said Breidenstein. “We’ve maintained that over an extended period of time, which is the board’s acknowledgment of its commitment to the community.”

“The (second) was the public hearing on our board goals and our district code of conduct,” he said. “We’ve had some minor revisions to our code of conduct that really focused in on the requests of a multitude of our stakeholders to make sure that basic parameters of the code are adhered to across the district. It was a document put together with a great deal of support from many individuals, and I think it’s a more user-friendly document.”

The third point of interest was the board’s adoption of three new board goals, which focused on instructional, fiscal and communication aspects of the district.

The first goal states that Salamanca will promote a rigorous prekindergarten through grade 12 educational program, with a focus on learning, exploration, opportunities for enrichment and acceleration and remediation. The second goal says the district will establish a Fiscal Accountability Plan to support instructional, capital and facility needs; while taking into account a changing economic reality.

The third goal is to engage key stakeholders in the community to support programs and initiatives to improve student achievement and create a welcoming school environment.

Breidenstein also highlighted the district’s significant hiring of staff to fill positions left vacant by retiring teachers – noting that the number of applicants for the positions far exceeded district expectations.

“This was a big objective over the past two or three years,” he said. “I think we’re headed in the right direction, and (the new hires) are bringing in an absolute shot in the arm in terms of energy and enthusiasm.”

Breidenstein also said the board has reduced its number of monthly meetings from two to one, now meeting only on the second Tuesday of each month.