Gilbert, other EV students plead for help.

By Cecilia Chan. GSN Managing Editor

Students asked for help and Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board delivered by passing a resolution asking the State Legislature for more money to hire additional counselors, psychologists and social workers.

Over the past few months, Gilbert high school students joined their counterparts across the East Valley in appearing before school boards and asking them to consider the resolution in light of a rash of teen suicides here and the rash of fatal school shootings across the country in recent years.

“If a child comes to school and their emotional needs aren’t met, they are not going to learn,” board member and retired educator Sheila Uggetti said at last week’s meeting.

“I don’t care what anybody says, it’s not going to happen,” Uggetti continued. “We need to make sure we give every child the opportunity to be in a safe learning environment. We can’t control what goes on at home, but we can hopefully help them when they get to school.”

Half of all U.S. children will experience some sort of mental or emotional disorder at some point in their life with suicide the second leading cause of death for those 15-24, according to the resolution.

Recognizing that mental health is a major component of school safety, the district is calling on state lawmakers and the governor for additional funding to lower the ratio of students to school counselors to 250:1, social workers to 400:1 and school psychologists to 500-700:1.

Superintendent Shane McCord said the district would love to have the ratios noted in the resolution, given its counselors to student ratio was 425 to 1.

“Of course with any ratio, whether it’s a psychologist, a social worker or counselor or a classroom teacher for that matter, everything revolves around budgetary capacity,” he said.

Board President Reed Carr said probably one of the loudest complaints he’s heard from parents was the difficulty in getting to see a counselor, unrelated to mental health issues.

He acknowledged budget constraints a few years ago caused a reduction in counselors for the district.

“On a personal nature having some experience dealing with people who have struggled with mental health, there is nothing more heart-wrenching as a family member than to watch a child, a parent, a friend or an associate who is struggling with mental health, who you wonder whether you will see them again,” Carr said.

He added oftentimes when there is a resolution or a statement like this, there is politics involved but that now was the time to put that aside and recognize the reality.

He said the State Legislature was also dealing with the issue of teen suicide and was considering a bill that would require suicide prevention training every three years for all school personnel for grades 6-12. The state Senate approved that bill last Wednesday and the measure now goes to the House.

“I don’t know of a teacher who wouldn’t intervene on a mental health issue. However, I know that teachers are not necessarily the most adequately trained to meet the psychological and mental needs of students,” Carr said, adding:

“So, having people who can truly focus and have that training is a meaningful element that in spite of whatever other politics may exist is a reason why I support this.”

He said teen suicide was a growing epidemic that was being discussed in almost every single state in the country at this point.

The board voted 5-0 to pass the resolution with Board Member Jill Humpherys recommending the district shared it with their area representatives.

“I would move that we would not only accept the resolution these students put before us but forward that to our legislators on their behalf,” she said, adding:

“And maybe in a letter from us that as a board we support this resolution and encourage them to increase funding so we can afford to hire those school social workers, counselors and psychologists.”

Students asked for help and Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board delivered by passing a resolution asking the State Legislature for more money to hire additional counselors, psychologists and social workers.

Over the past few months, Gilbert high school students joined their counterparts across the East Valley in appearing before school boards and asking them to consider the resolution in light of a rash of teen suicides here and the rash of fatal school shootings across the country in recent years.

“If a child comes to school and their emotional needs aren’t met, they are not going to learn,” board member and retired educator Sheila Uggetti said at last week’s meeting.

“I don’t care what anybody says, it’s not going to happen,” Uggetti continued. “We need to make sure we give every child the opportunity to be in a safe learning environment. We can’t control what goes on at home, but we can hopefully help them when they get to school.”

Half of all U.S. children will experience some sort of mental or emotional disorder at some point in their life with suicide the second leading cause of death for those 15-24, according to the resolution.

Recognizing that mental health is a major component of school safety, the district is calling on state lawmakers and the governor for additional funding to lower the ratio of students to school counselors to 250:1, social workers to 400:1 and school psychologists to 500-700:1.

Superintendent Shane McCord said the district would love to have the ratios noted in the resolution, given its counselors to student ratio was 425 to 1.

“Of course with any ratio, whether it’s a psychologist, a social worker or counselor or a classroom teacher for that matter, everything revolves around budgetary capacity,” he said.

Board President Reed Carr said probably one of the loudest complaints he’s heard from parents was the difficulty in getting to see a counselor, unrelated to mental health issues.

He acknowledged budget constraints a few years ago caused a reduction in counselors for the district.

“On a personal nature having some experience dealing with people who have struggled with mental health, there is nothing more heart-wrenching as a family member than to watch a child, a parent, a friend or an associate who is struggling with mental health, who you wonder whether you will see them again,” Carr said.

He added oftentimes when there is a resolution or a statement like this, there is politics involved but that now was the time to put that aside and recognize the reality.

He said the State Legislature was also dealing with the issue of teen suicide and was considering a bill that would require suicide prevention training every three years for all school personnel for grades 6-12. The state Senate approved that bill last Wednesday and the measure now goes to the House.

“I don’t know of a teacher who wouldn’t intervene on a mental health issue. However, I know that teachers are not necessarily the most adequately trained to meet the psychological and mental needs of students,” Carr said, adding:

“So, having people who can truly focus and have that training is a meaningful element that in spite of whatever other politics may exist is a reason why I support this.”

He said teen suicide was a growing epidemic that was being discussed in almost every single state in the country at this point.

The board voted 5-0 to pass the resolution with Board Member Jill Humpherys recommending the district shared it with their area representatives.

“I would move that we would not only accept the resolution these students put before us but forward that to our legislators on their behalf,” she said, adding:

“And maybe in a letter from us that as a board we support this resolution and encourage them to increase funding so we can afford to hire those school social workers, counselors and psychologists.”

 

 

Students asked for help and Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board delivered by passing a resolution asking the State Legislature for more money to hire additional counselors, psychologists and social workers.

Over the past few months, Gilbert high school students joined their counterparts across the East Valley in appearing before school boards and asking them to consider the resolution in light of a rash of teen suicides here and the rash of fatal school shootings across the country in recent years.

“If a child comes to school and their emotional needs aren’t met, they are not going to learn,” board member and retired educator Sheila Uggetti said at last week’s meeting.

“I don’t care what anybody says, it’s not going to happen,” Uggetti continued. “We need to make sure we give every child the opportunity to be in a safe learning environment. We can’t control what goes on at home, but we can hopefully help them when they get to school.”

Half of all U.S. children will experience some sort of mental or emotional disorder at some point in their life with suicide the second leading cause of death for those 15-24, according to the resolution.

Recognizing that mental health is a major component of school safety, the district is calling on state lawmakers and the governor for additional funding to lower the ratio of students to school counselors to 250:1, social workers to 400:1 and school psychologists to 500-700:1.

Superintendent Shane McCord said the district would love to have the ratios noted in the resolution, given its counselors to student ratio was 425 to 1.

“Of course with any ratio, whether it’s a psychologist, a social worker or counselor or a classroom teacher for that matter, everything revolves around budgetary capacity,” he said.

Board President Reed Carr said probably one of the loudest complaints he’s heard from parents was the difficulty in getting to see a counselor, unrelated to mental health issues.

He acknowledged budget constraints a few years ago caused a reduction in counselors for the district.

“On a personal nature having some experience dealing with people who have struggled with mental health, there is nothing more heart-wrenching as a family member than to watch a child, a parent, a friend or an associate who is struggling with mental health, who you wonder whether you will see them again,” Carr said.

He added oftentimes when there is a resolution or a statement like this, there is politics involved but that now was the time to put that aside and recognize the reality.

He said the State Legislature was also dealing with the issue of teen suicide and was considering a bill that would require suicide prevention training every three years for all school personnel for grades 6-12. The state Senate approved that bill last Wednesday and the measure now goes to the House.

“I don’t know of a teacher who wouldn’t intervene on a mental health issue. However, I know that teachers are not necessarily the most adequately trained to meet the psychological and mental needs of students,” Carr said, adding:

“So, having people who can truly focus and have that training is a meaningful element that in spite of whatever other politics may exist is a reason why I support this.”

He said teen suicide was a growing epidemic that was being discussed in almost every single state in the country at this point.

The board voted 5-0 to pass the resolution with Board Member Jill Humpherys recommending the district shared it with their area representatives.

“I would move that we would not only accept the resolution these students put before us but forward that to our legislators on their behalf,” she said, adding:

“And maybe in a letter from us that as a board we support this resolution and encourage them to increase funding so we can afford to hire those school social workers, counselors and psychologists.”