Wood County Educational Service Center receives $5 million

The Wood County Educational Service Center is the only agency in the state of Ohio to receive a federal
grant totaling more than $5 million to help schools and communities create healthier and safer learning
environments. A side benefit is the creation of more jobs in Wood County.
During a news conference this morning, it was announced the WCESC will receive $1,364,627 each year for
an expected four years, for a total of $5,458,508. The funding is part of the $32.8 million federal
"Safe Schools/Healthy Students" Initiative which is jointly funded by the U.S. Departments of
Health and Human Services, Education and Justice.
The grant will allow the WCESC to continue its collaboration with numerous agencies, departments and
other entities within the county and begin the process of putting its S.H.A.P.E.S. initiative into
action, expected to take about one year. The acronym stands for Shaping Healthy Atmospheres Promoting
Education and Safety, and Lorrie Lewandowski, coordinator of the WCESC’s On-site Alcohol, Tobacco and
Other Drugs program, said it is unique to the agency.
A total of 422 educational agencies and consortiums across the nation applied for the competitive
initiative in March, and 29 were chosen in 18 states and the District of Columbia. The one-inch thick
application was the result of input from many within the county. Working with the WCESC were the Wood
County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board which had funded a county needs
assessment in 2008, the Children’s Resource Center, Behavioral Connections of Wood County, the Family
and Child Abuse Prevention Center, Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Bowling Green State University’s Center
for Evaluation Services and the Psychology Department, the Wood County Juvenile Court and all nine
school districts in the county.
Also signing on to the grant were Penta Career Center, All Saints Catholic School, the Islamic Center in
Perrysburg, St. Rose Catholic School and the Genoa School District.
"This is not an ESC grant. This is a community project," stated Warren Fauver, director of
grants and special projects with the WCESC.
Many of those who spoke at the news conference praised the county’s collaborative spirit which led to
receiving the grant.
"It’s amazing to me when we come together in Wood County we leave our egos and turfs behind. We sit
down. ‘What do we need to do?’ And we do it," stated Hugh Caumartin, superintendent of Bowling
Green Schools. "It’s not the norm. It’s the exception."
There are five areas of service needs and gaps which will be addressed: Safe school environments and
violence prevention activities, including each school district getting a systematic review to identify
its individual safety needs (such as video cameras, not metal detectors); alcohol, tobacco and other
drug prevention activities, including adding a parenting curriculum for middle school parents; student
behavioral, social, emotional supports; mental health services, including a mental health specialist in
every school district; and early childhood social and emotional learning programs.
"We see the ever-increasing need," stated Tim Atkins, a prosecutor with the Wood County
Juvenile Court. He noted that when he started with the court he was working with 15- and 16-year-olds.
Now the court is dealing with 9-, 10- and 11-year-olds with severe mental health disabilities. Atkins
said dealing with them early helps to make for a better community. "We’re so happy you received the
grant," he added.
Prior to the conference Fauver noted research shows that for every dollar invested in prevention, there
is at least a $6 savings in post-prevention costs. "This is an investment in the future of our
children, our families, our schools and our communities."
Begun in 1999, SS/HS has funded 336 communities and been successful in many which implemented it. In a
press release by the U.S. Department of Education, Eric Broderick with the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration was quoted as saying, "The dividends for children, families and
communities at large have been unprecedented: Lower rates of school violence, more mental-health
services for more children, better attendance and improved academic performance."