– Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) joined a bipartisan majority of her House colleagues in passing the 2022-23 state budget bill and related legislation, which includes funding to create a school mental health grant program for which she advocated.
Boback was the prime sponsor of House Bill 540
, a measure that called for a requirement that Pennsylvania schools implement mental health training programs for students and faculty members. The legislation was modeled after the programs and initiatives of Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit group led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“As a former teacher and guidance counselor, I am particularly concerned with the mental health of our students,” said Boback. “Teachers are considered to be ‘loco parentis,’ or protectors in school. It is our obligation to provide our students with every tool educationally and otherwise to prepare them for life in every regard. That is why I sponsored the Sandy Hook Promise legislation. I am elated that a portion of the bill was included in the School Code.”
Specifically, the measure provides $100 million to fund the mental health grant program for the upcoming school year. The funding can be used to create or expand school assistance programs as well as training components. Every school district will receive a $100,000 base grant. Other school entities, which include intermediate units, career and technical centers, and all types of charter schools, will each receive a $70,000 grant. Recipients will be monitored to ensure the appropriate use of grant funds and compliance with provisions of the program.
The grant program is included in the 2022-23 School Code (House Bill 1642
), which was sent to the governor’s desk for his signature after passage in the House and Senate this week.