School counselors will soon be available locally at the elementary level to help guide children as they grow and encounter societal pressures.
“We don’t have elementary school counselors right now,” said Scott Rogers, Tooele County School District superintendent. “The need is so large, but there is only a certain amount of personnel money to go around.”
The change is connected to a $1.2 million federal grant recently awarded to the school district — an award that is one of only 35 in the nation and the only one this year in Utah. The grant will pay for 3.5 positions over a three-year time period to be shared at seven Title I schools in the district. Those schools are Anna Smith, Copper Canyon, Grantsville, Harris, Ibapah, Northlake, and West elementary.
“We’ve got family and societal pressures that impact homes,” Rogers said. “Counselors can be a real resource at that level.”
The superintendent, who has an educational background in school counseling, says he’s a bit biased in his excitement about this grant award.
“A principal can’t council 600 kids,” he said. “People are concerned about bullies, suicide prevention and relationship issues. That additional resource can help. They do social work, counseling and therapy.”
Schools were chosen based on need and a required Title I ranking.
“Our challenge now is to expand and, of course, sustain this grant beyond the three-year period,” said Rogers. “I would like to see school counselors in all of our elementary schools.”
Positions are currently advertised and the district hopes to hire soon. The 3.5 positions could equate to seven part-time positions, or three full-time and a part time position. It all depends on what the hiring pool has to offer.
“This is a very exciting thing for us,” said Rogers.