School Counselor Funding is On the Way, But Not Nearly Enough

Mar 5, 2019

School counselors are about to get a little more money. But, it’s still nowhere close to the required ratio.

The American School Counselors Association says schools should have one counselor for every 250 students. Virginia is so far behind meeting that standard it would cost about $85 million to catch up.

Rachel Deane at the Legal Aid Justice Center says the high dollar amount shows how far Virginia has slipped in recent years.

“Over the past decade we have seen student enrollment statewide increase dramatically. At the same time we’ve seen staffing for these crucial positions fall.”

Governor Ralph Northam wanted to invest $36 million this year as part of a three year plan to get closer to that recommended counselor-to-student ratio. But the General Assembly ended up funding only $12 million.

Chris Duncome at the Commonwealth Institute says that’s because lawmakers were so focused on delivering an election year tax cut.

Credit Mark Bonica / Flickr

“That really limited the ability to do large-scale improvements to our schools and K-12 funding. Those tax choices come at a cost, and I think they came at a cost to the schools this budget.”

That extra $12 million will help the ratio a bit. But even with the new money elementary schools will still only have one counselor for every 455 students.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.