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Letter: School board should seriously consider counseling proposal

I would like to underscore the importance of school counseling expressed by Dr. Odello in her April editorial, and Rev. Amy-Dressler in last week’s edition.

Residents of the Morris Area School District can be proud of the excellent faculty, staff, programs, and facilities that we provide for our students. Graduation is a time to celebrate the achievements and successes of the past year. It is heart-warming to have a valedictorian and also a United States senator (at UMM’s graduation) speak so positively about the positive assets of our community. One of the challenges we face is how to maintain the attributes that make for a healthy community while also improving our students’ chances for success in an increasingly complex and changing world.

In the face of tragedies that have taken place in schools around the country, some voices call for armed guards at our schools, while others propose stiffer gun control. Common sense would suggest more attention to values, character-building, and preventative services. School counselors are often the first line of defense when mental health issues arise. Short-changing this department is a short-sighted policy.

I encourage the school board to seriously consider Mr. Lemke’s realistic proposal to fund a part-time counseling position with funds from three other programs. This will at least alleviate Morris’ dubious distinction of having a worse ratio of counselors to students than the state of California. If we fail to handle this matter responsively at the local level, we risk having the state legislature tell us what they think the level of counseling resources should be.