The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Turner Public School Receives Additional COVID Relief Funding


December 9, 2020

Turner Public School District has received two separate COVID Relief Grants, one from the Governor’s office and another from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. Both grants will enhance educational opportunities for students in the district.

Monies for the first grant came in the amount of $35,784. These federal relief dollars were made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act. Turner School District applied for this additional funding through the Education Assistance Program administered by Montana’s Department of Administration in consultation with the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning.

According to Allocation Guidance from Governor Steve Bullock, “schools must use this funding for expenses specifically related to adjusting, adapting, and providing accommodations for students, parents, educators, and schools and their learning environment due to the needs generated by COVID 19.” Turner Schools will utilize the funds to invest in new technology.

In a report from Turner Public School Superintendent, Tony Warren, this relief funding grant will purchase five Smart Boards, twenty iPads, and eleven laptops. The new Smart Boards will replace those that are currently 15-20 years old.

About the funding, Warren stated: “This is a significant financial boost to our district. We would not be able to upgrade this much technology so quickly without these additional financial resources. The improved technology infrastructure will benefit our entire K-12 student body.”

Turner Public School (TPS) was also awarded a $4,100 COVID Relief Grant by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. This grant will provide resources for a safeTALK Suicide Prevention training that is scheduled for January 2021. Curtis Smeby and Darlene Sellers from MSU-Northern will be conducting the safeTALK presentation slated for next month.

On the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s web page, safeTALK is described as a half-day training program that “teaches participants to recognize and engage persons who might be having thoughts of suicide and to connect them with community resources trained in suicide intervention. SafeTALK stresses safety while challenging taboos that inhibit open talk about suicide.”

The ‘safe’ of safeTALK stands for ‘suicide alertness for everyone,’ while the letters ‘TALK’ identify the actions that we must practice to help those with thoughts of suicide: Tell, Ask, Listen, and Keep Safe. When we detect signs of depression, alienation, bullying, and other circumstances correlated with teen suicide, we need to take action, to help in such situations by connecting the individual at risk with the resources required. If we see, hear, or feel something that doesn’t ring true or that seems inconsistent, we need to address, rather than ignore, those irregularities. We can’t pretend deafness or claim ignorance; after all, we are all together in this world and must each do our part to offer support and intervention.

These two most recent grants are among others TPS has received over the past year. Since February 2020, TPS has obtained over $50,000 in outside funding to help improve educational opportunities available in the district:

• Triangle Communications technology grant to purchase document cameras for all teachers;

• Montana Masonic Foundation grant for the library to buy a cart, a mobile book display, classroom novel sets for grades seven-twelve, and books on Montana history and culture;

• Humanities Montana grant to bring Native American artist and cultural consultant Louise Fischer to TPS in September 2020;

• Montana Office of Public Instruction School Safety Grant to conduct a youth mental health training;

• Montana Office of Public Instruction Indian Education for All Grant to provide additional education on American Indian culture and history in Montana;

• Walmart grant to acquire physical education and weight room equipment;

• Two DonorsChoose Program charitable donations, which were applied to the purchase of physical education equipment and a flat screen television for the art classroom.

Warren says that outside funding sources like these can make a big difference for rural schools. “The additional funding is great news for our district and proof that if you remain persistent in working the grant angle, good things start to happen. We want to provide the best educational environment possible for our students in Turner, and outside funding helps us to continue to update and expand learning opportunities.”


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