Here's how Valley Stream District 30 plans to use $1.4M in federal grant money


The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is considered one of the most comprehensive, bipartisan gun safety measures to come out of Washington in decades, and with it comes a grant component that will provide Valley Stream District 30 with $1.4 million to improve student safety and mental health support.

The legislation, signed into law in 2022, bolsters background checks for gun buyers, expands community violence intervention programs and beefs up nationwide funding for mental health and school safety.

The grant component comes as particularly good news for Valley Stream District 30 and dozens of other school districts like it. Under the law’s federal funding program mechanism— known as the “Stronger Connections Grant Program” —$69 million will be shared among 44 school districts and charter schools across the state, according to the state education department.

It’s an influx of investment only three other school districts on Long Island — Brentwood, West Hempstead, and Huntington — have been selected to receive. All of which have been identified as high-need schools.

As outlined by the U.S. Department of Education, the scope of projects that the funds are meant to support is left intentionally broad but must generally make inroads on issues the federal law was intended to improve — safety and health, as well as curbing bullying, violence, and hate in schools.

Valley Stream administrators and stakeholders have until Sept. 2026 to decide what project, or projects, they intend to pursue with the funding.


Bold steps for better support services

Valley Stream District 30 intends to spend its cash through an initiative, aptly named the Family-School-Community Partnership. The district aims to shore up its social service resources and expand its community support tools.

“The Stronger Connection Grant will enhance our efforts to build strong family-school-community partnerships, which have been shown to improve student success,” said Superintendent Roxanne Garcia-France.

In more concrete terms, the program will hire a team of social workers, school counselors, and a “Community Services Information Assistant.”

“These team members will work closely with our Director of Special Services, school psychologists, and nurses to offer a comprehensive integrated approach to supporting our families in meeting the diverse and unique needs of their children,” said Garcia-France.

Plans are also in place to establish a Family-School-Community Resource Center to offer resources and workshops on how families can best meet the individual academic and social-emotional needs of their students.

And, in the interest of ensuring relevant stakeholders are involved in the process, a committee, known as the District-Wide Family-School Committee, will be formed. Their discussions will revolve around moving the needle on a wide range of issues including improving school attendance, building a better understanding of family-community issues by staff members, and promoting an overall improved quality of life for families.

Garcia France noted that once the district gets the green light from the Grants Finance Unit, which has the final say on all projects, the district will “promptly begin implementing our plans.”


Extra money amid budget constraints

The extra federal money comes as a source of relief to Valley Stream District 30 at a time when millions of federal funding dollars pumped into school districts from the pandemic are fizzling away, and, invariably, spending has been hemmed back in school districts across Long Island this budget season.

In Valley Stream, districts have gone from pouring cash into big improvement projects and new programs to an expected return to budgeting for the bare essentials.

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