Missoula County Public Schools is the only district in Montana to receive a nearly $400,000 grant for counseling and mental-health programs in its schools.

The grant was announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education as part of a $15.2 million nationwide outlay to school districts in 19 states.

The grant awards $393,030 to MCPS to expand counseling and mental-health services to elementary and secondary students.

Under grant rules, parents will be able to guide exactly how the funds are used in their schools.

MCPS will also use the money to increase the number of counselors in its schools. The Department of Education says having adequate counseling services can reduce disciplinary referrals in schools, improve student attendance and academic performance and enhance development of social skills.

Also under rules attached to the grant, funds can be used to support parental involvement, counselor and teacher professional development, and collaboration with community organizations that provide mental health and other services.

The grant amounts are based on the population of individual school districts. MCPS has a student population of around 8,500.

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