Pam Smith, Safe Schools/Healthy Students Project Director
School District of Lancaster
Although the School District of Lancaster (SDL), Pennsylvania is a resource-rich area, schools and community agencies were operating in silos before the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative (SS/HS). The school district had high rates of expulsion, school violence, gangs, and drug and alcohol abuse, as well as a generally poor school climate. No single entity had the tools to deal with all these issues—until SS/HS. The SS/HS grant enabled SDL to address these problems by bringing together a strong cadre of partners: school leaders, the County Directors of Juvenile Probation and Mental Health, the local police, an evaluator from Franklin and Marshall College, a representative from the Council on Alcohol and Drug Use, a community representative, and a delegate from the mayor’s office.
Today, all of these constituencies continue to work together and have added new partners, such as the Lancaster County Children and Youth Agency, the United Way, and faith-based partners. Partners share ownership and leadership of the initiative, operating under the philosophy that a school-community-based project would be the most sustainable and lend itself to having a broader impact. Together, these partners contribute $13.1 million annually in in-kind services and staff. “This full service school-community model has been pivotal in sustaining the work,” says SS/HS Project Director Pam Smith.