PAEC and Gadsden County School District awarded $3.5 million to elevate rural Florida

Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC) and Gadsden County School District were awarded a 2019 School Climate Transformation Grant by the US Department of Education. This discretionary grant will provide $3.5M in funds over 5 years and will benefit students and teachers in Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, and Taylor School Districts.

The project, known as Elevate Rural Florida, will integrate evidence-based solutions for implementing and enhancing school-based, Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) and emphasize restorative, equity-focused, and culturally responsive practices to achieve three primary goals:

  1. Improve school climate through enhanced quality, fidelity, and consistency of MTSS implementation;
  2. Reduce inequities, including racial, socio-economic, and other high-need student disparities in discipline and academic performance, through tiered implementation of culturally responsive evidence-based practices; and
  3. Develop sustainability through family engagement and community partnerships.

Project activities will include: a) providing staff with professional development and technical assistance in implementing Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) with fidelity; b) facilitating job-embedded coaching, and regional professional learning communities to support implementation of evidence-based practices, including restorative justice and social-emotional learning; c) providing regional, cross-district mental health specialists to expand and enhance school mental health, safety, and substance abuse prevention activities; d) using academic, behavioral, and social-emotional data for problem-solving and decision-making; and e) working to strengthen connections between schools, families, and community service agencies.

PAEC and the Gadsden County School district will implement and oversee the project over the course of the next 5 years.

PAEC is also in its second year of implementation of the 2018 US Department of Education Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant, known as Read with Me! This project serves students and educators in five districts.