Money for Arizona school cops, counselors, social workers on hold
PHOENIX — Arizona school districts may have to wait another year to hire more school resource officers, counselors and social workers.
State lawmakers approved $20 million to go toward these new hires, but the Arizona State Board of Education voted this week to delay giving out the funds.
That’s because the money will be given out through the state’s school safety grant program and the next round of applications for the program isn’t until next year. However, it’s still possible school districts could get the funds this school year.
“We are disappointed,” said Janine Menard, a member of the Arizona School Counselors Association’s board of directors and a counselor with the Tolleson Elementary School District.
“At the same time, I appreciate the fact that the board wants to get it right,” Menard added. “We want school districts to have equal access to these funds.”
The vote by the Arizona State Board of Education comes as the state grapples with the nation’s worst student-to-counselor ratio.
The latest numbers by the American School Counselors Association show Arizona’s student-to-counselor ratio is 905-to-1. That’s twice the national average of 455-to-1 and well above the association’s recommended ratio of 250-to-1.
“With the amount of school shootings and the importance of mental health in schools, we think it’s time that Arizona starts to lower that ratio,” Menard said.
She said her group planned to work with the Arizona State Board of Education and the Arizona Department of Education “so that the money can still be allocated for this upcoming school year.”