Martinez Unified School District Receives Asthma Grant
Martinez Unified School District has secured a $280,000, three-year grant to provide health services and educational information to about 12,000 students in the county with respiratory conditions such as asthma, a leading cause of student absenteeism, the Contra Costa Times reports. The grant will be funded by pollution penalty fees paid by the Shell Oil Products refinery to the Environmental Protection Agency's Supplemental Environmental Projects fund.
The district will use the grant money to hire a full-time nurse to screen students in kindergarten through fifth grade for asthma. If a student is diagnosed with asthma, the nurse will work with the student, parents and health care providers to help the child receive treatment. If a student does not have a doctor, the nurse would assist parents in finding services.
The nurse also will establish an educational program to inform students, parents and teachers about the symptoms of asthma, its causes and how to correctly use inhalers to treat the condition. District officials hope to hire the nurse by February 2005.
District Superintendent Dan White said he hopes the district will have adequate funding to retain the nurse after the three-year grant expires. He said, "If we can better equip kids to navigate through the educational system, that could provide a real service that we're not equipped to handle at this time," adding, "I see it as a very positive thing for the school district" (Braun, Contra Costa Times, 12/8).