Schools Fall Short in Addressing Students’ Mental Health Needs
A report released by the Hopeful Futures Campaign, a coalition of organizations promoting mental health supports in schools, shows that schools in every state are falling short in their efforts to address students’ mental health needs. “America’s School Mental Health Report Card” grades schools in areas such as teacher and staff training, mental health education, and the ratio of school mental health providers to students. According to the report, only Idaho and Washington, D.C., meet the nationally recommended ratio of one school psychologist for every 500 students. In Idaho, the average is one school psychologist for every 479 students. In D.C., it’s one school psychologist for every 410 students. Read the full report at bit.ly/3HQ9Ayg.
A Tough but Necessary Part of the Job
The pandemic has forced many school leaders to be the bearers of bad news given that members of school communities, as well as students’ family members, have died from COVID-19. Derrick Lawson, the principal of Indio High School in Indio, CA, has some advice for school leaders in handling this tough but necessary part of the job. Be prepared ahead of time with remarks in your authentic voice. Create opportunities for others to share, especially after a death. And on issues like school building closures and mask mandates, communicate in ways that anticipate pushback and allay concerns. Just as important, take care of yourself. “As school leaders, we must prioritize our own well-being,” Lawson says. “We cannot fill everyone’s emotional cup if ours has run dry.”
Federal Covid Funds Can Help Ease Staff Shortages
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows the extent of staff shortages brought on by the pandemic. The report, “Raising Pay in Public K–12 Schools Is Critical to Solving Staffing Shortages,” suggests that policymakers address shortages in part by using the billions of dollars in federal COVID-relief funds. Health concerns related to the virus have led to shortages not only among teachers but also among bus drivers, custodians, and food service workers. EPI recommends that these federal funds be used “to raise pay for education staff, enact strong COVID protections, invest in teacher development programs, and experiment with ways to support part-time and part-year staff when school is not in session.” Read the full report at bit.ly/35E13S7.
A Say in Funding Decisions
According to a survey released by NASSP in December, only 27% of principals “strongly agree” that their district appropriately consulted them about how to use COVID-relief financial aid for their school. That’s not the case at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, NH. When the district received its first round of COVID funding, principal Bill McGowan and his administrative team reviewed student and staff needs to determine how to use the funds. The district listened to those recommendations (purchasing tents for outdoor classrooms and technology for remote learning, improving the HVAC system, and increasing counseling), and the budget process reflects that input. “School leaders and teachers are the ones who see students every single day,” McGowan says. “My goal, including with the budget process, is to meet the needs of students and staff.”