Scottsdale leaders Tuesday balked at a recommendation to take away school district control over money used to pay for prevention programs for student drug, grief and behavioral issues.
Instead, the City Council voted unanimously to leave it to the Scottsdale Unified School District’s discretion which student counseling agency to hire — using nearly $254,000 a year provided by the city — to serve the district’s 33 schools.
The council similarly rejected a recommendation from its Human Services Commission to replace the current school counseling agency, Scottsdale Prevention Institute, with another called Community Bridges.
Kristen Polin, Community Bridges’ director of community development, said there’s no hard feelings.
“I think the council made a clear decision that both organizations are qualified,” Polin said. “Our organization is ready to partner with (Scottsdale Prevention Institute) and do what we do best.”
Marla Abramowitz, the district’s prevention coordinator, said Scottsdale Prevention Institute has provided student prevention services to 32 district schools for 20 years.
Community Bridges serves Sierra Vista Academy and also provides services such as parental education and student driving safety, she said.
Earlier this year, the Human Services Commission decided it needed to have better control over money totaling about $433,000 used to fund a number of local nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk youths, the elderly, domestic violence victims and substance abusers, said Connie James, Scottsdale human services director.
In previous years, about $254,000 of that was given to the district to fund student programs, while the rest of the money was divided among nonprofits who applied to the city.
The commission, however, recommended making the district apply for its funds just like everyone else, James said.
The commission also recommended dropping Scottsdale Prevention Institute from the school system and replacing it with Community Bridges, she said.
The result was Scottsdale Prevention Institute and Community Bridges found themselves competing for money, a process that Polin said was frustrating and unnecessary.
“We should have all been brought together to work collaboratively from the start,” she said.