GrCo school board adds to effort toward better student mental health

The Greene County Schools board of education is keeping the mental health of students high on its priority list. After approving additional elementary counseling staff for the last school year, the board at its July 17 regular meeting approved spending up to $9,450 to provide students access to a mental health practitioner at school via telehealth in the coming school year.

At the request of school counselor Kyle Kinne, the board approved contracting for telehealth services from Sue Gehling, ARNP, FNP, PMHNP of Carroll. Gehling specializes in mental health and is able to prescribe medications.

Services will be available one half-day per week at a total cost of $16,875. Part of that time will be after school hours to consult with teachers; Central Iowa Community Services will pay for thee consultation time, $3,375.

Prairie Lakes AEA has agreed to pay $4,050 as a pilot project. That leaves a maximum of $9,450 the school district could need to pay. Gehling will bill Medicaid and commercial insurance, decreasing the total cost to the district.

According to Kinne, there are often roadblocks to students getting the medication they need to succeed at school. A parent must be present during the telehealth appointment, but making the appointments available in the district will reduce their travel time and time missed from work.

Kinne also hopes the telehealth service will increase communication between the provider (Gehling) and school staff.

“Her goal will be to get a student stable, help them be successful, and then send their care back to their family practitioner,” Kinne said.

Also on the meeting agenda was naming legislative priorities for the Iowa Association of School Boards. The IASB had provided a list of 31 resolutions and asked boards to name the four most important topics of them.

Board president Mark Peters, who has advocated for mental health services in the past, was quick to support a resolution calling for efforts to establish comprehensive community mental health systems that would offer preventative and treatment services and comprehensive mental health programs that include in-school access to mental health professionals and provisions for reimbursement by Medicaid and private insurers.
Board members agreed with him.

Other priorities include continuation of incentives and assistance to encourage sharing or reorganization between school districts; requiring the legislature to approve supplemental state aid 14 months ahead of the school year for which it is effective; and funding for at-risk students and dropout prevention as part of the foundation formula.

The board also approved a contract with 21st Century Rehab for sports medicine coverage for 2019-20. The contract includes coverage for all home and away high school football games, and all home middle school football games, varsity volleyball games, cross country, varsity basketball games, high school and middle school wrestling meets, high school and middle school track meets, high school soccer games, and high school baseball and softball games. A certified physical trainer or physical therapist will also be available at practices two days per week during football season to evaluate possible injuries or consult with coaches.

Cost of the contract is $7,000.

21st Century Rehab made its offer contingent on the school district purchasing ImPACT concussion software. 21st Century Rehab has provided that service to student athletes for the past two years with the Greene County Youth Athletic Association providing the software with partial funding from the Greene County Community Foundation. Cost of the software needed is $435. The board agreed.

McFarland Clinic did not send a proposal for services this year.

Shawn DeMoss reported demolition of the Grand Junction school building is under way. DeMoss said the work is “moving along really well.”

The newer part on the north end of the building has been razed. The roofing is going to a landfill but the steel and concrete are being sorted and hauled out for recycling.

“We’ve had a lot of people going by. It’s not a great thing like building a school. Tearing one down is hard on a community,” DeMoss said. “We’re trying to make it as easy as possible like we did in Rippey, trying to get it done as quickly and economically as possible, and trying to keep in mind the feelings of people who graduated from there as well as people who live in the area.”

The demolition of the Grand Junction school building started later than planned but is now under way. | GCNO photo, 7/20/2019

He also said some pieces of architecture are being kept at the request of alumni.

Lansing Brothers Construction of Luxemburg was low bidder on the project at $154,600. The same company razed the Rippey building. Cost of the demo work comes from the district’s SAVE fund.

The board approved a house plan proposed to industrial technology teacher Kirk Davis for the student construction class. The 1,400 square-ft, 3-bedroom home will be built on Briarwood lot 5.

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