Shelton Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chris Clouet told the Shelton Board of Education that the Shelton school system will be collaborating with Shelton community leaders to create a Drug-Free Community Council.
To start the process of the council, the Shelton BOE is expanding the hours of a part-time social worker. The social worker will be hired to work with Shelton high school students on drug issues and drug abuse.
However, Dr. Clouet had asked the BOE to expand the position from .5 to .6 in work time to allow the BOE to start the process of developing a Drug-Free Community Council. He explained who would be involved in the council.
“The Drug-Free Community Council is not just a pretty name for folks to have good feelings,” Dr. Clouet said. “It’s a very specific kind of group made up of police, health officials, religious organizations, media organization and others. That puts us in a position where we can apply for a grant that funds a Drug-Free Community Council.”
Dr. Clouet said that other Connecticut towns and municipalities have received grant monies for Drug-Free Community Councils. He said Shelton has never applied for the grant, but should because of the growing drug problem.
“It’s an epidemic and a troubling issue, and I think doing this small piece will allow us to have a very well-trained, serious person on board that can help with the process,” Dr. Clouet said.
The Board voted to increase the hours of the part-time counselor from .5 to .75 at the suggestion of board member Win Opel. Opel was a strong proponent of increasing the part-time social worker’s hours.
“I think if we have an opportunity to reach these kids at an age when they can play an impact, I think we have an absolute responsibility to do this,” Opel said. “I would recommend that we move the position from .5 to .75. This will provide an opportunity not only to do the things that are normally taken, but as the Superintendent alluded to in his email, that we have an opportunity to further that work in our community.”
The board was given an estimate of what the cost of the counselor’s salary at .75 hours. It would be approximately $40,500, with single benefits.
Dr. Clouet said after the meeting that the increase of .5 to .75 would be roughly from 20 to 30 hours. He also said that when they apply for the grant money from the Drug-Free Community Grant (DFG), it can be as much as $100,000.
The grant is awarded through the Federal Office of National Drug Policy Control.
According to the agency’s website, the grant money provides community coalitions needed support to prevent and reduce substance abuse.
The towns that received grant money were announced in September 2015 by Governor Dannel Malloy’s office. The Connecticut towns and cities awarded in 2015 include Andover (including Hebron and Marlborough), Bethel, Bridgeport, Durham, Middlefield, East Haddam, Enfield, Guilford, and Hamden. Also awarded were Ledyard, Madison, Meriden, Milford, New London, Norwich, Plymouth, Putnam, Southington, Stratford, Trumbull, Winham,and Wolcott.