The Iowa Department of Education is seeking public comment on the state’s plan to identify high-need school districts that will benefit from receiving additional federal funding to create safer and healthier learning environments, and prevent and respond to acts of bullying, violence and harassment that impact our school communities at individual and systemic levels.

The funding comes from the Stronger Connections Grant (SCG), which is a component of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022, and provides $1 billion in funding for states to distribute to high-need schools under Title IV Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The deadline for public comment is Jan. 31.

As part of the competitive subgrant application process, the Department has proposed guidelines to seek applicants from high-need school districts. The proposed definition of the term “high-need LEA” – which stands for Local Education Agency – includes a district with a high rate of poverty and with one or more of the following characteristics:

  • high student-to-mental health professional ratio,
  • high rates of chronic absenteeism,
  • exclusionary discipline,
  • referrals to the juvenile justice system,
  • bullying/harassment,
  • community and school violence or substance abuse,
  • natural or manmade disaster or traumatic event.

The use of funds will be prioritized to support conducting school safety assessments and creating safety plans, increasing access to integrated student supports, implementing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support or Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or improving meaningful family engagement opportunities, and other allowable activities.

Review the draft grant guidelines and definition of “high-need LEA.” (link removed)

Send public comments to If you have questions, contact