Columbus schools push for mental health services
Annette Deuman would like to see more mental health services available to students in the Columbus School District.
Deuman, superintendent for Columbus Schools, said focusing on mental health and social needs is the third priority in the district’s Launch program, designed to work with the community to improve several aspects for students in the coming years.
Deuman recently met with representatives from the Columbia County Health and Human Services Department to discuss resources available for students.
“They have a comprehensive county services program, which is more of a wrap-around team approach,” Deuman said. “It’s a Medicaid reimbursement for low-income families and for families that don’t have insurance. I found that kind of ironic since Medicaid funding for schools has been cut.”
Deuman said the meeting shined a light on county services the district could benefit from that she wasn’t aware of. Northwest Connections, a crisis response center, is a mobile team created to help students and families. Deuman said she provided its information to the school district’s counselors and plans to let families know the service is available.
“Overall, we’re still really pushing to have on-sight services for our families and our students,” Deuman said. “We’re not there yet. We keep learning about services that are available through counties and through different resources.”
Many of the county mental health resources are in Portage, however, making it sometimes difficult for families to access in Columbus, almost 30 miles southeast. County mental health experts joked with Deuman they could be more accessible to families in Columbus if they had space at the school district.
“I told them I would find them an office, I would find them space, I would find them whatever facilities they need within our district,” Deuman said. “If it meant providing our students and our families with the mental health services we need, we will find it for them. I am very passionate about this. We’re still pushing hard and still trying to figure out how we can get those services here for our kids.”
Schools receive energy grants
The school district received some significant grant funding by participating in energy efficiency programs.
The high school will receive $9,915 and the middle school will get $8,915 through a grant from WPPI Energy from Sun Prairie. Deuman said Facilities Manager Troy Marshall was instrumental in helping secure the funding.
“We ended up getting some very nice checks for the two energy efficiency projects we did,” Deuman said.
The district could receive more funding if it continues participating in energy efficiency projects.
“We are very thankful for WPPI for being able to fill those energy needs and receive that funding,” Deuman said.
Marshall provided a brief update on the track and field renovation project.
He said bids for the project should be released soon. Construction work would likely begin this spring and be completed in early August. Marshall said there have only been small changes to the project.
“We are right at the cusp for the maximum amount of funds we can use,” Marshall said.
Since bids are being released early, Marshall believes the project will attract significant interest from contractors hoping to secure work in the spring and summer.
Columbus will be losing two staff members to retirement by the end of January.
Paulette Wolff, who works as an educational support specialist for the elementary school, will retire Jan. 19, while custodian Allan Baumgartner will have his last day Jan. 26.