Education news from around Idaho

Sources of Strength

State Department of Education receives suicide prevention grant

Idaho last month received a $3.6 million grant from the federal government to combat the state’s high rate of youth suicide.

Idaho’s youth-suicide rate was fifth in the nation in 2017. A 2019 student survey showed 22 percent of the state’s youth reported seriously considering suicide at least once.

The State Department of Education will use the Garret Lee Smith grant, a five-year award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to expand the state’s Sources of Strength program. The funds will pay for trained behavioral-health managers and peer-to-peer groups for survivors of suicide. Funding will also cover:

  • Training for culturally appropriate assessment and treatment of suicidal clients.
  • Text and chat services at the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline.
  • Early intervention materials for Idaho elementary schools to work on social and emotional learning.
  • Partnerships with youth-serving organizations.
  • Training for adults in schools to intervene and support students considering suicide.

“This grant offers a great opportunity to advance our efforts to reduce youth suicide rates and address students’ social-emotional and mental health needs,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said in a news release. “Suicide has a devastating effect on our school communities, and it is vitally important that students have trusted, caring adults and peers in their lives.”

Blue Cross Foundation donates $1.5 million to University of Idaho scholarships

Two scholarship funds will share a $1.5 million dollar donation that the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation awarded to the University of Idaho in early February.

The funds will benefit the financial need-based Vandal Promise scholarship and scholarships for the WWAMI Medical Education Program, a partnership between the University of Washington School of Medicine and western states, including Idaho.

Nearly 70 percent of Idaho’s families cannot afford to pay for one year of college, Blue Cross said in a news release. The foundation pledged a $1 million donation for the next ten years to support the Vandal Promise Scholarship program, which benefits 20 students per year and has a 100 percent retention rate.

Another $5,000 in scholarships will support WWAMI Medical Education Program students who “have a passion for practicing rural medicine in Idaho,” the news release said.

Javier Castaneda, principal of Heritage Community Charter School, celebrates the opening of new classrooms.

Heritage Community Charter adds new space ahead of 2020 lottery

Caldwell’s Heritage Community Charter School celebrated the addition of two new middle school classrooms, a computer lab and a library on Feb. 6 with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“We take seriously our growth and commitment to excellence in creating an environment for learning that includes a dual language program,” administrator Javier Castaneda said in a news release.

Heritage serves about 500 students from a cross the Treasure Valley. The school is accepting applications for the upcoming charter school admissions lottery on April 4.

Trustees gear up for Day on the Hill

School Board trustees from around Idaho will gather in Boise next week for the annual “Day on the Hill” hosted by the Idaho School Boards Association, one of the state’s most prominent education lobbying groups.

The two-day meeting on Feb. 17 and 18 includes a keynote speech about “Communicating in a crisis” by a public relations firm and a luncheon where trustees meet with elected officials to discuss education priorities.

“This is your opportunity, as a school board member, to work with ISBA in reaching out to the Idaho State Legislature to preserve local governance while improving education across the state,” the conference agenda says.

Sami Edge

About Sami Edge

Reporter Sami Edge, a University of Oregon graduate, joined Idaho Education News in 2019. She is a 2019 Education Writers Association fellow reporting on Latino student outcomes in Idaho. She also is a 2019 American Press Institute fellow. She can be reached at [email protected].

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