At the beginning of March, the (PHCD) announced a $4 million grant over the next three years supporting physical and mental health to be shared by Burlingame, Hillsborough, San Bruno, Millbrae and San Mateo-Foster City school districts.
At the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, PHCD officials were on hand to discuss just how that grant money will be used in Burlingame.
“It’s really an honor and a delight to be here in this capacity tonight,” said Peninsula Health Care District CEO Cheryl Fama. “ It isn’t a brand new idea, but it’s one we’ve had a lot of passion for for a long time.”
Fostering healthy children is one of the district’s strategic priorities in the upcoming years, and the grant is intended to fund positions and programs leading to healthy lifestyles for students. Fama noted that teaching children to make behavioral changes for better health now proves more effective than trying to change bad habits later in life.
Schools significantly impact students, arguably only second to family and home, so bringing health education into the district is important.
Fama discussed the district’s needs with Superintendent Dr. Maggie MacIsaac before deciding where grant money should go.
“We aren’t the experts on what your school district needs; you are the experts,” Fama said to the board. “We want to meet the priorities of your school district.”
In Burlingame, those priorities include hiring a physical education teacher and creating age-specific physical education curriculum, hiring a wellness coordinator to carry out the Burlingame School District Wellness Policy and hiring a school nurse to provide both health care and education for students, parents and staff.
The grant funds, $250,000 of which will go to BSD in the first year, are intended to facilitate the creation of new programs and the development of programs already working at the schools. The goal is to produce sustainable programs that can remain once the three-year grant period ends.
For instance, Board President Michael Barber mentioned that without grant money in three years, the district might be unable to continue funding a school nurse. Fama assured the board that the PHCD was aware of these limitations and will work during the next three years to find sustainable solutions.
Overall, board members expressed excitement about the possibilities the grant brings to the district.
“”I’m just ecstatic we got to partner with you…it’s such forward thinking,” said Trustee Greg Land. “I’m just bouncing up and down and jumping for joy.”