As students prepare to head back to school this year, state leaders are trying to figure out ways to make sure classrooms are safe. But, that conversation has largely focused on buildings rather than people.
The conversation about school safety has largely been about how many doors the buildings have or how people gain entry. But what about the people inside? A new report from the Legal Aid Justice Center and the Commonwealth Institute says school staffing for counselors and social workers and psychologists has fallen dangerously low. Rachel Deane at the Legal Aid Justice Center.
“Students who come to school with mental-health needs or they come to school with trauma often need more support to excel academically, and often that support needs to take the form of one-on-one counseling or one-on-one work with school professionals who can help them excel.”
Chris Duncombe at the Commonwealth Institute says caseloads have increased 30 percent since 2008.
“In particular in 2010 fiscal year when the state put a cap on the number of support positions that they would help pay for. This dramatically impacted state investment for many of these support staff positions.”
So what’s the solution? The report recommends lawmakers act on a recommendation from the Virginia Board of Education to amend the Standards of Quality and establish higher staffing standards for social workers, school psychologists and school nurses.