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OREGON: Tax increase to cover student "mental/behavioral health' needs in schools

Dec 23, 2019, KATU TV, Portland, OR: Local school fights for mental health counseling PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon will soon start taxing the state's wealthiest businesses and the money gathered will, in part, fund one of educators' gravest concerns -- mental and behavioral health…. The Student Success Act puts basically $1 billion a year going into Oregon schools, and school districts are supposed to work with their communities to decide what to prioritize. A portion of the money in each district must go towards mental and behavioral health, but what people get a say in is what exactly it'll fund. KATU’s Genevieve Reaume looked at how the money gets allocated at Rosemary Anderson High School, a school for students who have likely struggled in traditional education systems…. While these kids may not have what other students do, they've got one thing those their age have been pleading for – a therapist. Beth Kapsch is one of two mental health specialists working at Rosemary Anderson's four campuses. “A place where if a student is having a rough day, they can come and just decompress," said Kapsch…. “We're almost entirely funded through individual donations," said Kapsch. “Years ago, a local Portland family, the Schechters, saw a grave need for more mental health supports in school. And since there wasn't money coming from the state, they took it upon themselves to make it a reality, partnering with Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center -- or POIC -- to raise the funds.”… “Having those services in schools really meets students literally where they are,” said Kapsch. The kids tell me she helps on their bad days and their best, so they can get back to focusing on the fundamentals. POIC recently announced it raised enough money to hire a third mental health specialist for Rosemary Anderson. Their goal is to get one more added to staff, totaling four, within the next two years. What's key here is the Rosemary Anderson community made a choice to raise funds for therapists, and no money from the state helped that…. Many districts are holding community meetings to get feedback on the funding, including Portland Public Schools and Salem-Keizer. Salem-Keizer School District has actually formed a task force to figure out what to do with the $35 million it's getting from the Student Success Act….


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