Perry Public Schools recently applied for a competitive grant opportunity through the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) and was one of 38 schools in Oklahoma awarded. 
OSDE had $11,776,526 in federal K-12 funding from the U.S. Department of Education under the BSCA Stronger Connections grant program to provide students with safer and healthier learning environments. They took these funds and distributed grants to high-need local educational agencies (LEAs) to help them develop, implement and evaluate a comprehensive approach that focuses on physical and emotional safety for their unique school community. Funded activities and practices should prioritize safety, create a sense of belonging, implement trauma-responsive approaches and teach positive behaviors in order to provide safe and supportive learning environments that improve academic achievement and the well-being of students. 
After reviewing the application requirements and visiting with educators, Perry Schools was inclined to apply and put emphasis on the need of additional school counselors to serve Perry students. 
Currently, the Perry school district has two counselors that serve approximately 1,022 students. The counselors-to-student ratio at PPS is 511:1, with the junior high site having no full time school counselor. 
“Our counselors are stretched thin as they are responsible for classroom instruction, coordination of outside mental health agencies, state assessments, one-on-one and small group counseling sessions, scholarship opportunities and much more,” expressed Mr. Joe Jacobs, PPS administrator who led the charge on submitting this grant application. 
The American School Counselor Association recommends a 250:1 ratio. By adding two additional counselors, PPS will comply with this recommendation and improve counseling services offered to the student body. 
Over 120 LEA applications were submitted for the competitive Stronger Connections Grant with funding requests greater than 38 million to implement activities that enhance a safe and healthy learning environment. 
OSDE stated that all regions and demographics were represented through the application submission with an award amount totaling 11 million plus.
Perry Public Schools was a Stronger Connections grant recipient and was awarded $330,000 from OSDE. Administrators at PPS plan to use the grant to fund two additional counselors to help facilitate evidence-based programs and improve mental health interventions that fall in line with the PPS strategic plan objectives. 
PPS has posted the job openings for an elementary school counselor and junior high counselor. Interested candidates can find more information on the school website employment page at: www.perry.k12.ok.us/apps/pages/employment