The Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees approved a budget amendment Thursday that provides $1.17 million to hire 10 social workers as District employees and contract with an additional five. The budget amendment also earmarks $1.2 million to establish an Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Round Rock ISD.

“We are proud of the critical and foundational work of our Equity Task Force over the past two and half years and are excited to take the next step to build a team that will provide leadership and support in creating an equitable, diverse and inclusive working and learning environment for every member of our community,”  said Superintendent of Schools Steve Flores, Ph.D. “I appreciate the Board’s leadership in taking this important step, as well as providing funding for social workers who are needed more than ever to support our students and families.”

The $1.2 million for equity efforts will fund six full-time positions, including a Chief of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and also provide resources for professional development, campus equity support, student support and community outreach. The District plans to engage a search firm to conduct a nationwide search for the Chief of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

The District will hire 10 social workers to join the Behavioral Health Services Department, assigning two to serve in each vertical learning community. The additional five will be contracted through CARY4Kids, a research-based program for middle school and high school students. The goal of the program is to reduce the number of serious behavioral referrals on campus.

A Safety and Security Task Force made up of community members which met from August 2018 to September 2019 identified the need for social workers, and recommended that District social workers could provide case management, crisis counseling, community/program development and more. Social workers can also support students in transition, review discipline data and help identify and address equity concerns.

“This has been a longstanding need but it is even more pronounced now in our current COVID19 environment,” Director of Behavioral Health Amy Grosso, Ph.D. said. “This will be such a monumental help in connecting our families with wonderful resources in the community and supporting our campus principals as they seek to support students.”

Grosso said additional social workers will be hired as soon as possible to begin supporting students for the 2020-2021 school year.