Federal Survey to Check Violence, Safety at Local Schools

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of HHS, this week announced the start of a new School Climate Survey for the National Cross-Site Evaluation of Safe School/Healthy Student Initiative Grants, which is a collaborative grant program supported by its parent department and also the departments of Education and Justice. The grant program was authorized by Congress after the Columbine High School rampage in Colorado and provides school districts with funding to improve school safety, give students access to mental health services, reduce violence and substance abuse, and build schools' relationships with the larger community.

From FY1999 through FY2004, $916 million went to 190 local education agencies; about 40 new grants were awarded in FY2005. The grantees have to report their progress in curbing violent incidents and substance abuse, their attendance improvements, and whether they increased mental health services to students and families.

This School Climate Survey will be administered electronically to about 67,500 local educational system employees who will be encouraged to log on to a Web site during each year their schools benefit from the grants to answer questions

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