Submitted by Dr. Kathy Burns
Vice Chair Nassau County School Board
October 28, 2015 10:00 a.m.
Our school district recognizes that creating a safe and supportive school climate requires addressing not just the behavioral needs of students, but the social and emotional needs as well. Based on our firm belief that all our teachers and students can only function efficiently in school environments that are safe, supportive and conducive to teaching and learning, a grant proposal was submitted to the United States Department of Education. In October of last year the Nassau County School District was awarded the “School Climate Transformation Grant” totaling over $2 million dollars. With the Department of Education’s endorsement of our
proposal to utilize grant dollars to enhance learning conditions for all students, the Nassau County School District became one of only five districts in Florida to be awarded the grant.
In the months following the receipt of the grant, our district is working to efficiently maximize the impact of the funding by creating a sustainable, evidence-based behavioral framework for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions for all students. The implementation team for our project includes a director, four social workers, and two behavioral specialists. This team works in partnership with the University of South Florida’s Positive Behavioral Support Project and the Nassau Alcohol and Drug Abatement Coalition to implement the “Positive Behavioral Support” project.
The “Positive Behavioral Support” project is comprised of three tiers. Tier 1 creates a universal strategy for establishing positive behavior for all students. Tier 2 focuses on students who may need additional support, and Tier 3 involves individualized interventions. Every school in our district is committed to becoming a “Positive Behavior Support” school. As such, we join over 1500 schools in Florida and nearly 22,000 schools throughout the United States who share our mission.
Early data analysis reflects positive change that is taking place in our schools. In the first two months of implementation of the PBS project, there has been a 33% decrease in school discipline referrals district-wide. In support of our universal strategy to “Be responsible, Use Respect, and Stay Safe,” the Transportation Department has supported classroom implementation by extending the project to the district’s buses. When students are identified as meeting the expectations to be responsible, respectful and safe, they are rewarded with an “I was BUSted for doing right!” card. In the first two months of PBS implementation on our buses, we have experienced a 20% reduction in bus discipline referrals.
By recognizing that students with behavioral problems are frequently in need of additional mental health and behavioral services, the School Climate Transformation Team has implemented a “System of Care” to better serve these students and their families. Referrals to the “System of Care” can be made by school staff, community partners, parents or students through the use of an electronic data management and referral process. This Data Analysis Reporting Tool (DART) was created by a district technology employee and will allow quick and efficient mobilization of resources for the student in need. You may contact Dr. Catherine Drew (277-9070) for information about the DART program.
The mission of the Nassau County School District remains: “To develop each student as an inspired life-long learner and problem solver with the strength of character to become productive members of society.” Through the implementation of the Positive Behavioral Support Project, we are taking yet another step to empower our students and teachers in a positive, healthy, safe and supportive learning environment.