UP school districts look to hire more counselors and health professionals

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ISHPEMING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) – Research is underway to ensure students at Upper Peninsula Elementary School are going through tough times.

NICE Community Schools Superintendent Bryan DeAugustine said his district has two counselors and a social worker who meet the health needs of the students. And now the district is looking to add another professional.

“We have a plan in place, or are working on a plan, to add at least one,” DeAugustine said. “And so we’ll have another full-time advisor in our Aspen Ridge building, which is home to about two-thirds of our students. “

NICE plans to use money from the state’s emergency relief fund to start paying the new full-time advisor. The K-12 state budget that Governor Whitmer signed last summer includes $ 240 million to hire these professionals.

DeAugustine says the extra help could benefit all students, especially middle school and high school students who are preparing for their future.

“If a student needs something in real time … just trying to access those events that are happening in someone’s life where a person just needs someone to talk to, or a friendly ear to listen, I think it’s gonna be really important, “he said.

In the Ironwood area schools things are a little different. Superintendent Travis Powell said that before any new funding was distributed, only one advisor interacted with the 700 students.

“We now have two school counselors,” explained Powell. “This funding has helped us double our capacity. And now, while it’s still an {advisor} for 350 students, it’s a much more manageable process. “

If more money becomes available, Powell hopes to add more mental health professionals. Still, he says his students and those in other districts have less to worry about.

“If they’ve got someone to talk to,” said Powell, “then they’re able to deal with whatever is bothering them, get help, hopefully solve it so that they can either focus on their academics again or just have a better quality of life.

While Ironwood has already found his professional extra, NICE hopes to hire another by spring.

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