Marking the first anniversary of the shooting deaths at Columbine High School, President Clinton announced more than $120 million in new federal grants to place more police officers in schools and help even the youngest kids cope with their problems.

“In our national struggle against youth violence, we must not fail our children; our future depends on it,” the president said in his weekly radio address April 15.

“As we prepare next week to mark the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Columbine High School, our thoughts turn to the safety of our communities, schools, and children,” Clinton said. “All of us—parents, schools, communities, and government—share responsibility to keep kids safe.”

On April 20, 1999, two students at Columbine High in Littleton, Colo., fatally shot 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.

Safe Schools, Healthy Students grants

Clinton announced $41 million in grants for 23 school districts that he said have found successful, comprehensive approaches to help troubled young people. The grants are part of the federal Safe Schools, Healthy Students (SSHS) initiative.

‘”These districts are bringing school nurses and counselors together to respond to warning signs like depression or bullying,” Clinton said. “They are improving classroom security and expanding after-school and mentoring programs.”

A joint effort involving the U.S. Departments of Education (ED), Justice (JD), and Health and Human Services, SSHS helps communities design and put into place comprehensive educational, mental health, social service, law enforcement, and juvenile justice services for youth. The grants announced April 15 fund 23 new three-year projects, adding to 54 SSHS projects funded last year.

School districts were asked to submit comprehensive plans created in partnership with law enforcement officials, local mental health authorities, juvenile justice officials, and community-based organizations. Plans were required to address six elements:

• A safe school environment;

• Violence, alcohol and drug abuse prevention and early intervention programs;

• School and community mental health preventive and treatment intervention services;

• Early childhood psychosocial and emotional development services;

• Educational reform; and

• Safe school policies.

Urban school districts were eligible for up to $3 million, suburban districts were eligible for up to $2 million, and rural and tribal districts were eligible for up to $1 million. Applications—judged for their strength, comprehensiveness, viability, and potential for success—were reviewed by an interdepartmental team that made recommendations to the cabinet departments.

Continuation grants for the initial 54 three-year projects funded in fiscal year 1999 will be awarded this summer with nearly $100 million from the three federal agencies. Projects must demonstrate substantial progress to receive continued funding.

For a list of grant winners, including contact information and a link to each project’s description, see http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/04-2000/0415.html.

COPS in Schools grants

Clinton also unveiled the $60 million fifth round of funding for “COPS in Schools,” a Justice Department program that helps pay the costs of placing police officers in schools to help make them safe for students and teachers. The money will be used to provide 452 officers in schools in more than 220 communities.

“Already, [the program] has placed 2,200 officers in more than 1,000 communities across our nation, where they are heightening school safety as well as coaching sports and acting as mentors and mediators for kids in need,” Clinton said.

The Cops in Schools program, which is part of JD’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), provides up to $125,000 to pay for the salary and benefits of each new school resource officer for a three-year period. By law, half of the funds are granted to jurisdictions with populations under 150,000.

Back in March, JD announced a new competition for an additional $250 million in Cops in Schools grants. Applications can be obtained by contacting JD’s Response Center at (800) 421-6770, but the deadline for submissions is May 31, 2000.

For more information about the COPS program or the recent grant winners, see http://www.usdoj.gov/cops/.

Elementary School Counseling Demonstration Program

Finally, Clinton said that ED has earmarked $20 million for new proposals to establish counseling programs for elementary schoolchildren. “We have seen all too clearly that even our youngest children need our help,” he said.

Under a new initiative called the Elementary School Counseling Demonstration Program, ED will issue grants to an estimated 60 school districts to create or expand elementary school counseling programs. Awards will range from $250,000 to $400,000, with an average size of $325,000.

The deadline for proposals is June 9. For more information, contact Loretta Riggans, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Room 3E220, Washington, DC 20202-6123; phone (202) 260-2661,eMail Loretta_Riggans@ed.gov; or visit http://www.ed.gov/GrantApps/index.html#84.215E.