On Thursday, Aug. 3, Gov. Ned Lamont and State Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker released the list of 72 school districts across Connecticut that will each receive a portion of $15 million in state funding to support the hiring and retention of school mental health specialists for the 2024, 2025, and 2026 school years.
Wilton Public Schools was one of the 72 districts on that list.
The grants are part of the CT State Department of Education’s new School Mental Health Specialists Grant program. Recipient districts will be awarded grants in the range of $25,150 to $120,000 in each of the first two years and 70% of that amount in the third year.
In 2024 and 2025, the Wilton will receive $115,963.68 each year; in 2026, the grant decreases to $81,174.58. Over the three years, state funding from the program directed to Wilton will total $313,101.94.
Only 13 of the 72 districts saw grants totalling above $300,000; the most any one district received was $324,000 over the three years.
The grant figured into the budget that Wilton Schools Superintendent Kevin Smith prepared for FY2024. With more than $400,000 in salaries that had been covered by the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSR) and American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) grants the year before, Smith acknowledged that administrators hoped to receive funding from the state’s new program to support the district’s efforts in addressing students’ expanding mental health needs.
According to a press release from Gov. Lamont’s office, the competitive grant program also utilizes funding from the ARP. This effort is “the second of three rounds of grants aimed at increasing the number of mental health workers in schools that are being administered by the state using ARPA funding.”