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District expands mental health services to meet rising needs


By Carrie Moniot

Cornell school directors have expanded student mental health services following a rise in district cases.

During a Nov. 16 board meeting, members voted to expand its agreement with the Holy Family Institute by increasing the time clinicians spend on call in the school buildings.

The mental health clinician was previously on site one day a week. Cornell may look at adding an additional half day or full day due to the increase in need.

During a workshop meeting the previous week, board members discussed the need for boosting the service, citing an increase in students with anxiety and depression.

“Having this type of resource available to us is big,” said Superintendent Aaron Thomas. “We have seen a noticeable uptick in students needing mental health support and services, and we have to do what we can to provide those services.”

Cornell pays Holy Family Institute for its services through the CARES program, which provides federal money to districts to help address COVID-19 issues.

The money can only be spent on certain items, one of which is mental health services.

“They provide excellent services for us,” Thomas said.

Meeting policies

Directors also approved the third and final readings of two policies drafted to keep the district in compliance with Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act, requiring agencies to deliberate and take official action on agency business in an open and public meeting.

According to the recently updated Sunshine Act, notice must be given of agenda items, and the public must be able to attend, participate and comment before an agency takes official action.

Cornell’s revised policy on public participation requires all public comments be made at the beginning of each meeting.

The second revised policy will require the district to publicly post the agenda for all open Board meetings at which official action may be taken no later than 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting. The agenda will be posted on the district’s website, at the meeting location and at the district’s administrative office.

Community mourns

Directors acknowledged the passing of long-time employee Edie Shoecraft Nov. 16 and scheduled a remote learning day for students and staff on Nov. 22, the date of Shoecraft’s funeral. Shoecraft was a lifelong resident of Coraopolis and a graduate of Cornell High School. She worked for the district for more than 28 years, most recently as the elementary school secretary.

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