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School counselor caseload extremely high in Arizona

TUCSON – School counselors are vital in each school district, but the student caseload is increasing.

Arizona has the highest student to counselor ratio in the country. That average is around 900 students to one counselor.

School counselors do more than just guide students to college. They are trained to provide emotional support.

News 4 Tucson spoke with a Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) counselor who says it is hard to do that with such a high caseload.

The American School Counselor Association last took data from the 2015/2016 school year. The national average that year was 464 students to every one counselor. The Arizona average for that year was 903 students to every one counselor.

Go HERE to see the average ratios state-by-state.

“A student needs someone to listen to them,” said Martha Damek, school counselor in TUSD. “Maybe they do need advice. Maybe they do need support in some matter. For them to understand and feel better about school, their family, and some type of event that they’re going through. So I feel like having a school counselor on your campus is so extremely beneficial.”

Damek says mental health is on the rise and it is important kids have someone to turn to.

Here are the  average student-to-counselor ratios in Southern Arizona:

TUSD:

District-Wide Average: 500:1

Amphi:

High School Average: 400:1

Middle School Average: 580:1

Marana:

High School Average: 275:1

Elementary School Average: 500:1

Sahuarita:

District-Wide Average: 455:1

Sunnyside:

High School Average: 375:1

*one counselor per elementary school

Vail:

High School Average: 266:1

Elementary School Average: 650:1

“Teachers feel unequipped to manage a class of 30 children while also finding the time to provide individualized attention,” said Kathy Hoffman, Superintendent of Public Instruction in Arizona. “Especially those who are facing depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts.”

Hoffman told lawmakers on Monday that she supports any plan to increase the presence of counselors and school psychologists.

“A lot of students are coming to school and they’re troubled,” said Damek. “If they’re ready socially and emotionally and if they have that person who’s specifically trained and would have the time if the caseload numbers were appropriate, to listen and to guide them, they would be more successful.”

Gov. Doug Ducey proclaimed this week as School Counselor Week, saying he is working to add more counselors to schools in Arizona.

Ducey’s new budget adds $12 million to place 112 new counselors in Arizona schools this year. Go HERE to read more.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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