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Scappoose seeks planning grant from OHA to assess health center feasibility

PMG: FILE PHOTO - The Scappoose School District is applying for grant funding from the Oregon Health Authority to help conduct a needs assessment and help with the planning process to establish a school-based health center. The grant awards are due this week and grant recipients are expected to be announced early next month. The Scappoose School District is planning to apply for grant funding to determine the feasibility of establishing a school-based health center in the district.

During a Scappoose School Board meeting earlier this month, Superintendent Tim Porter provided the school board with a copy of the grant proposal information. He later confirmed that the district was planning to apply for the grant.

Porter explained that grant funding would help the district conduct a needs assessment and steer its health center efforts in the right direction. According to the district's recently adopted strategic plan, addressing physical, mental and social-emotional wellness and health is a top priority for the district.

"The planning process and needs assessment will help to point us in the right direction as to how to best accomplish our findings and give us more clarity of what that would look like for the Scappoose School District," Porter stated in part in an email to the Spotlight.

Currently, the school district has one school nurse to provide services for more than 2,100 students in the school system, Porter added.

The Oregon Health Authority is offering up to 12 grants to school or educational service districts during the first year of the 2019-2021 biennium to receive planning grants of $35,000. At the end of the planning grant cycle, at least six new school-based health centers and up to four pilot sites for a school nursing model will receive funding of around $60,000 in the grant's second year, the grant documents explain.

Grant awards are expected to be announced in early October.

The Scappoose School District was selected to receive $60,000 in grant funding from OHA in 2016, but district leaders were ultimately unable to name a suitable location for the facility. Concerns from planning committee members and district staff at the time also stemmed from the fact that a facility could not be outfitted and licensed by appropriate authorities before the grant funds expired.

During early discussions about the health center, many members of the public cited concerns about the services it would provide, including access to sexual health materials and contraceptives.

Currently, Scappoose is the only school district in Columbia County that does not have a school-based health center.

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