Students and families need support

To the editor:

Upon reading the March 1 “Secondary deans plucked from cuts” story, a number of points need to be addressed in order for the community to have accurate information and a comprehensive understanding of the issue. I am a parent of two graduates from Lakeville Public Schools and have been an elementary school counselor for 20 years.

What troubles me is that the public is not being informed with accurate information. Make no mistake that I believe there is “a place at the table” for administration and support staff at every level in the best interest of students and families.

I am wondering how 12 of 14 deans are eliminated for a savings of $450,000 (LASA) and four school counselors cut for savings of $300,000 (EML)?  What are these figures based upon?  The original budget proposal was to eliminate the dean model (14 administrators) and go to an AP model (one assistant principal per secondary building) while moving three of eight counselors to the middle level, where student support services are currently lacking.

The revised (Feb. 26, 2013) budget proposal eliminates four of eight elementary school counselors for $300,000, which will effectively eliminate elementary student mental health support services while reinstating deans and eliminating the possibility of middle school mental health student supports.

The story states that the dean program has addressed most student concerns including scheduling, counseling and post-secondary planning. Yet, administrative licensure requires no mental health training to identify and support students with issues such as self regulation, depression, anxiety, grief, addiction and bullying. When our community is told that students are being “counseled” by deans, they may wrongly assume all students have access to and are receiving mental health services from qualified personnel when they are not. There is currently one administrator in Lakeville who holds licensure in both administration and school counseling.

I urge the public to review Minnesota Statute 3512.0510 regarding the requirements to become an administrator and Minnesota Statute 8710.6400 regarding the requirements to become a school counselor. There needs to be administrators and support staff at every level within our school district in the best interest of students and families.

Kathy Mattern