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Ohio to spend $33M on student wellness

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(The Center Square) ­– The state of Ohio plans to spend more than $33 million to give K-12 students what it calls a safer and healthier learning environment.

The money, part of the Stronger Connections Grant, will be spread out across 747 districts and schools and is part of Future Forward Ohio, a program aimed at improving student wellness and mental health.

“The Stronger Connections grant strengthens our commitment to ensuring students are safe and have the resources they need while addressing the mental and physical health needs that are critical to ensuring students are ready to learn and be successful in the classroom and in life,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.

Districts and schools can use the funds to support local health and safety needs, including student wellness and mental health.

The federal money comes from Title IV-A funds given to states to improve academic achievement by improving school conditions for learning, increasing the use of technology and providing access to a well-rounded education.

The public and private schools that applied for the grant received a tier 1, 2 or 3 award based on health and safety factors collected from data, including rates of poverty, chronic absenteeism and exclusionary discipline.

Tier 3 schools worked with community partners and stakeholders to help determine their communities’ health and safety needs and develop plans for using the money.

“It is critical for students to enter a positive, safe and supportive learning environment each day as they explore, discover and achieve,” said Chris Woolard, interim superintendent of Public Instruction. “The Stronger Connections grant helps schools to continue addressing challenges that impact a child’s learning so students can focus on reaching success.”

Columbus City ($1.7 million), Cleveland City ($1.7 million) and Cincinnati City ($1.3 million) received the largest grants.

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