Home > Upper Moreland, upper moreland school district, Willow Grove > Board Discusses Bullying Prevention Program

Board Discusses Bullying Prevention Program

February 6, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Peter Suanlarm
The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle

(umtsd.org)

The Upper Moreland School Board discussed a proposal to add Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to Upper Moreland Middle School and Upper Moreland Intermediate School Feb. 3.

Suzanne Bell, director of Student Services & Supervisor of Secondary Special Education, presented the national program, which is supported by Family Services of Montgomery County.

Superintendent Robert Milrod said Olweus is on the school district’s shortlist of private companies because of its quality.

“We would need to establish a bullying prevention coordinating committee and add psychologists, nurses, teachers, parents and community members to the team,” Bell said.

Additionally, the whole staff would need to be trained.

The cost of implementing Olweus is $8,000 per school.

The prevention program can take up to two schools per district.

Bell said the school district wants to implement the program into the Intermediate School by May and into Upper Moreland Middle School by the next school year.

Bell said that the district plans on requesting funds from Access grants to cover the $16,000 for two schools. However, the district would be responsible for providing two days of substitute teachers, while the staff is being trained. For 10 teachers the cost would be $253 per teacher and $2,530 total. Bell said that those trained teachers would then train future program participants, which would cut future costs.

The district also would have to pay $1,350 for questionnaires at $1 per student. The total expense to the district would be $3,880 for the first two years. Bell said questionnaires would be the only costs after that period.

Bell argued that the program could reduce school reports of bullying by 50 percent and improve schools’ social climate and students’ attitudes toward school.

She cited other participants of the program such as North Penn, Abington, Lower Merion, Norristown and Pottstown school districts.

“If you can stop bullying, other problems such as vandalism and negative attitudes toward school would go down as well,” Bell said.

She cited nationwide surveys from 1998 that revealed 23 percent of students in grades four to six were bullied several times and 20 percent of students had bullied fellow students.

“This program seems like a good deal,” Bell said. “This is an opportunity to bring a very good program into our district at a low cost to us.”

One board member asked why the high school was not considered. Bell responded by saying that the high school already has restorative practices including conflict resolution in place for the past two years.

“At the high school, we treat students as young adults,” Milrod said. “And they need to step up as young adults. We feel that Olweus is geared more toward the middle school.”

According to Olweus, the bullying program goals include reducing existing bullying problems among students, preventing the development of new bullying problems and achieving better peer relations at school.

The school board will vote on whether to go forward with Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Feb. 15.

For more information on Olweus, call 610-630-2111 or visit www.fsmontco.org.

Republished with the permission of The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle

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