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Elementary schools will get some more counseling

June 4, 2013

Greenfield — The number of Greenfield elementary school guidance counselors once cut in half for budget reasons will be restored this coming year.

That means an additional two counselors will be hired.

"That is huge," said Interim Superintendent David Ewald.

About 42 percent of Greenfield students come from relatively low-income families. With economic stresses often come other issue that affect school performance, Ewald said, so schools need guidance counselors to help children overcome the barriers that keep them from doing their best.

The School Board concurred, voting to provide enough funding to bring a guidance counselor to each of the four elementary schools in 2013-14.

Currently two guidance counselors serve the entire elementary population of 1,749 students, but they cannot meet the needs of students, Ewald argued in bringing the issue before the board.

In a memo to the board, Ewald wrote, "After much discussion with our administrative team, reviewing achievement data, analyzing behavioral data and review guidance referrals, we would like the School Board to consider reinstituting elementary guidance counselors at each of our elementary schools."

The American School Counselor Association recommends an ideal counselor/student ratio of 1 to 250. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recommends a ratio of 1 to 400 elementary students, he said. The state of Wisconsin ratio is 1 to 453.

"Our current ratio is 1 to 875, double the recommended ratio," he noted in the memo.

Guidance services have been pared back to provide minimal developmental guidance services, he wrote. The result has been reacting to crises instead of preventing them, he wrote.

That also has meant principals have had to step in more, he said, which takes them away from their responsibilities.

— Jane Ford-Stewart

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