Grants, state funding to expand city school programs

Jessica Schladebeck

Two York City School District programs have started the year off with additional funds in their coffers, courtesy of state grants.

The district's police department and its early education program will be able to expand as a result of the recently announced funding.

Police Department: The York City School District's police chief, Michael Muldrow, on Monday told the school board the district's police force would be the recipient of more than $200,000 in state grants.

The district's police force competed against schools both public and private, police agencies and municipalities for a share of grant funding released through the state Department of Education's Safe Schools Initiative Targeted Grant program. The funds will cover a variety of costs, ranging from equipment to additional staff, Muldrow said.

One portion of grant will go toward an additional school police officer who will serve as a special investigator, with a focus in child abuse and sex crimes, Muldrow said, adding the officer will be at the "beck and call of all building administrators and teachers." Muldrow said this addition to the staff will help educate district personnel about, and offer assistance with, mandatory reporting requirements in suspected child abuse cases.

Muldrow said the proposal for this expert was unique, and its approval makes York City Schools the only district in the state to have an expert of this nature. This officer will be stationed at Davis K-8 School. An additional hall monitor will be hired there, should the new officer be needed elsewhere in the district.

The grant funding will ultimately allow for each campus to have its own school resource officer, Muldrow said.

About $25,000 of the grant will go toward purchasing new radio equipment, to mirror the county's shift to its new radio system, he said.

Muldrow also told the board the funds will allow for the hiring of an after-hours officer for sporting and other evening events.

Muldrow called the grant funding "an awesome, awesome thing" and reminded the board all of the additions to the police department will be done "without putting an increased strain on your general fund."

Pre-K: The school district learned Thursday it also will receive additional grant funding from the state to expand its early childhood education program, said Julie Fabie, pre-K supervisor for York City schools.

Since the 2007-08 school year, the district has offered early child care through the state-funded Pre-K Counts program. That year, the school district opened six classrooms, with the goal of one day having as many pre-K classrooms as it did kindergarten classrooms.

The district, under its recovery plan and in partnership with the Community Progress Council, has since increased its early childhood education offerings. Last school year, the district hosted 190 students in its pre-K program and had a total of 10 classrooms: seven run through Pre-K Counts funding, while the other three were paid for through the district's general fund balance, Fabie said.

The district applied for additional grant funding to cover those three classrooms operating under the school's budget plus one more, with the intention of opening a 12th classroom to be paid for by the district, Fabie said.

The budget stalemate however, stalled the distribution of grant funding, and the district kept its pre-K running using general funds.

Gov. Tom Wolf's approval late last month of a partial budget allowed the existing grant money to flow into the seven approved Pre-K Counts classrooms,with an approved expansion of four more classrooms, Fabie said.

The approved expansion means the district will only have to pay for one of its 12 early education classrooms, Fabie said.

Members of the school board praised the early education program.

"We can say that this program is a success," said board President Margie Orr. "The district of York City is one of the only districts that offers something like this — we are a beacon."

Pre-K students Kevin Herrera, 4,  left, and Jose Vega-Estronza, 5, right, paint during their afternoon work time at Hannah Penn K-8 School in York, Pa. on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

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