In the wake of a tragic bullying incident that resulted in the death of a middle school student last year and a beefed-up district-wide anti-bullying campaign, the Polk County School Board Tuesday added four new anti-bullying social worker positions to the school systems’ employee roster.
The four social workers will help administrators and district staff deal with an increasing number of bullying cases that have surfaced, said Superintendent of Schools Kathryn LeRoy Tuesday at a school board work session.
“We have a lot more cases coming forward,” Leroy explained. “And to close the loop, we believe we need support staff in each region to help both families and administrators.”
The anti-bullying specialists will coordinate efforts from the district, schools,families and community to bolster the district’s anti-bullying policies and education programs and assure that those policies are being followed, LeRoy explained.
“These people will collaborate with the district’s anti-bullying committee to prevent, identify and respond to bullying and harassment of students in their regions, including working with school administrators to investigate reported bullying incidents,” Learning Support Services Director Nancy Woolcott told the school board.
“They will take some work off her plate,” LeRoy added.
The social workers will be paid on a teacher salary schedule, depending on their experience, LeRoy explained. The four slots are expected to cost the district $229,028 a year.
Also added to staff, were four family liaison slots who will operate family resource centers in each of the district’s four regions.
Those workers will develop and hold training workshops for parents on how to help their children to continue to learn at home, LeRoy said. Also, four constituent advocates will join the system ranks.
They will work with families to resolve issues identified by parents and community members on ways to improve services provided in each region, the superintendent said. These part-time staffers will work 25 hours a week for 10 months of the year, she said, and are also paid from Title I federal funds which are monies targeted for low income areas or schools with a high percentage of lower-income students.