SAN ANTONIO – The recommended student to counselor ratio is not being met in many schools across the nation, including in San Antonio.
We collected the data from seven districts in our area. None met the more strict standard and only one, Harlandale ISD, met the Texas Counseling Association’s Standard.
The American School Counseling Association recommends a ratio of one counselor to 250 students.
The Texas Counseling Association’s recommended ratio is one counselor to 350 students.
Kimberly Ridgley is director of guidance and counseling at Northside Independent School District and said they have seen a trend of more students needing counseling services.
“We’ve seen a rise in anxiety in school phobia. Really cyberbullying, social media and so a lot more children are experiencing a crisis,” Ridgley said.
Ridgley said this is making the role of counselors more important than ever.
“Often times school counselors are the first access to mental health that children have,” Ridgley said.
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Ridgley said school counselors have seen an increase of hours spent helping students in crisis.
“It takes a lot to work with kids who are in crisis. So we have seen an increase in the number of hours spent in what we call responsive services,” Ridgley said.
Angelica Lozano, director of guidance and counseling at EISD, said there are several challenges they face.
“Unfortunately there’s a lot of challenges and issues that we see that are happening on a daily basis and it’s the school counselors that can connect with students and be able to work with families that help,” Lozano said.
There is no law mandating a certain student to counselor ratio in Texas.
“We help with attendance issues, we help with family issues, looking at providing social services for students who may have a financial need connecting them with outside counseling, connecting them with community resources,” Lozano said.
Frustration continues to grow as many school counselors continue to share responsibilities with other teachers and staff.
“Time with students, I think that’s the struggle because students have a need to work with school counselors as mental health professionals and when school counselors are doing other things they are not available for other students,” Ridgley said.
According to the Texas Education Agency, “The number of counselors needed to staff the program is dependent on the students' and community's needs and on the goals and design of the local program. The ratios should be sufficiently low to meet the identified, high priority needs of the students and the school community.”