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D118 to post mental health resources for teens

Commercial-News - 10/24/2019

Oct. 24--DANVILLE -- A member of the Concerned Citizens of Danville group asked the District 118 school board Wednesday night if crisis resources for teens could be posted at the middle and high schools.

"The unfortunate recent suicide has caused a lot of dialogue in the community," Julie Carlson of Danville said. "What I would like to see is a set of crisis resource posters -- with the national crisis hotline on it -- posted in public areas, such as locker rooms, restrooms, hallways and cafeterias.

"It would be really neat if it would be student driven; maybe a senior project that could stay up," she said.

Assistant Superintendent John Hart said district officials are involved with Step Up, a group of community leaders that meet monthly to discuss issues related to mental health, drugs and alcohol, and family.

He also said District 118 is close to launching the Toilet Talks program that is being promoted by the Vermilion County Health Department.

Soon, DHS, Kenneth D. Bailey Academy and North Ridge Middle School students will be able to use their cell phones to scan information on mental health resources that will be located in school restrooms.

Also on Wednesday, board members:

--Entered into intergovernmental agreements with the City of Danville for three school resource officers, to authorize the police and fire departments emergency access to school security video feeds and radio frequencies and for reciprocal reporting of criminal offenses committed by students.

"These are updates with the new mayor and the new chief," Hart said. "They have been sent to the city for review."

The first agreement renews a longstanding pact for three Danville police officers to perform the duties of a school resource officer (SRO) at DHS, Bailey Academy and North Ridge from July 1 to June 30, 2020. The district will reimburse the City of Danville 100 percent of the SRO's per diem rate of salary and benefits for any day that the SRO works in the district.

"We've asked for some flexibility in their hours, so, for example, they can be at graduation, parent-teacher conferences or afterschool activities," Hart said. "We're hopeful it will work out."

Some board members expressed concern about what would happen if one or two of the SROs would be absent because of illness or injury.

Hart said some police officers will be trained as backup SROs in case of a long absence.

"At no time would we have less than two officers in the district," Superintendent Alicia Geddis said.

--Entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the Vermilion County Sheriff's Department for reciprocal reporting of criminal offenses committed by students. That pact already has been approved by Sheriff Pat Hartshorn and State's Attorney Jacqueline Lacy.

--Heard that prekindergarten enrollment totals 590 children in District 118 and at county schools. At Southwest Elementary, 328 children fill 12 half-day classrooms, with 17 students on a waiting list. Truex said the district is waiting on a Preschool for All Expansion grant that would add three full-day preK classrooms at Edison Elementary which currently houses two half-day classrooms. Fifty-five children are on the full-day waiting list.

"There are eligibility requirements for the full-day program," Truex said.

District 118 also is the administrative agent for the prekindergarten program in Vermilion County, with classrooms in Armstrong, Bismarck, Georgetown, Hoopeston, Oakwood, Potomac, Rossville, Westville, Catlin and Jamaica.

--Heard an update on the Illinois Assessment of Readiness 2019 Report -- otherwise known as the state report card -- that will be released Oct. 30 by the Illinois Board of Education.

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