The Booneville School District is discussing a wellness center grant for the third time.
Booneville Elementary School Assistant Principal JimBeth Diffee told the school board last week she is preparing the grant application but no grants were issued last year and only three or four are expected to be issued this year.
“In order to apply for the grant you had to attend a meeting (in Little Rock). It was standing room only,” Diffee said.
After the grant is written it will be reviewed by two panels before a group of four decides which schools to visit.
The 2015 application drew enough state interest to garner a site visit which is the first hurdle for the project this year. Two years ago, however, the committee was not enamored, or not enough, with the visit.
“They’re going to come in and see if we have our policies in place, that everyone’s involved, that the community is involved, that your healthcare provider is involved and the school board is involved,” said Diffee.
Diffee said Dr. Michael Miranda is apparently okay with the plan but his superiors have yet to affirm their support.
Diffee said she is trying to learn from errors made in a failed attempt to land a grant in 2015. The idea then was to operate the clinic in the school’s former ALE Building, through a provider, presumably Dr. Richey from Cooper Clinic.
This time, rather than open the clinic to the general public, Diffee believes the clinic should be wholly school-based. With estimates now exceeding the total money available to do so, the ALE building is no longer an option superintendent John Parrish told the board.
The idea this time is to operate the clinic in the west side of the administration center at the elementary school, where mental health services including Western Arkansas Guidance and Counseling Center are already offered.
“I feel like that would be sustainable. It’s $150,000 the first year and it drops off every year so you have to be sustainable in five years,” said Diffee.
The plan for now, Diffee said is to have junior and senior high students in need of the services shuttled to the elementary school.
“They are not real thrilled about (the district) not being on one campus and us having the health center, but Paris was one of the first to get the grant and they got some stipulations so I’m kind of piggy-backing off of some of their ideas,” said Diffee. “As long as we have a plan, they may not like it but they’ll work with us.”
The school board first considered the idea in 2013 and Dr. Jared Cleveland addressed the board about his experience with the grant for the clinic in Lavaca.
However, when both Dr. Richard Eccles and Mercy expressed an interest in becoming the provider for the clinic, the matter was dropped. Eccles has since left the area.