North Raleigh News

Federal grant to provide more elementary school counselors in Raleigh

The staff rosters at some Raleigh elementary schools soon will include a new counselor in a bid to improve students’ attendance and classroom behavior, as well as their academic performance.

Wake County school officials announced last week that the system is the recipient of a three-year, $1.1 million federal grant that will support counseling services at Creech Road, Fox Road, Green and Lynn Road elementary schools.

Cathy Moore, deputy superintendent for school performance, said that while the American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250-to-1, many Wake schools have far more students assigned to a single counselor.

At Fox Road, for example, more than 700 students share one counselor, a number that makes it difficult to provide a full range of counseling services, said principal Robert Lewis.

“We’re tremendously excited to be receiving more resources to support our students and their families,” he said.

The counselors are involved in teaching entire classes, identifying smaller groups of students that may be struggling with certain skills and working with them and assisting families in times of crisis.

“They’re an integral part of the school in just a variety of ways,” Lewis said.

Moore said that counseling services are a critical part of educating each child. Strong counseling and other student support services are tied to better academic performance, she said.

When the school system decided which schools would participate, officials looked at a variety of factors that indicated students would benefit from more counseling services. Those factors include rates of homelessness and attendance to how many students have a disability or limited English proficiency, Moore said.

The federal grant summary for Wake says the program aims to reduce the student-to-counselor ratio by about half, to the recommended 250-to-1 levels.

The four elementary schools have a total of about 2,400 students.

The program also will look specifically at the needs of students who have deployed military family members.

The full details of how the program will look at each school are still being developed.

Wake is one of 40 districts in 20 states to receive Department of Education funding that totals more than $14.7 million. In North Carolina, Buncombe County Schools also received funding through the grant program.