Wayne County, KY: District increases "student mental wellness" staff to 32

Aug 3, 2019, WYNT, Hazard, KY: Wayne County Schools adding 14 positions focused on student mental wellness WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. - Fourteen new positions are being added in the Wayne County School system for the upcoming year, all of them focused on the mental well-being of students. The funding for the positions is coming from House Bill 206, which was passed in the legislative session at the end of June. "We have received quite an additional bit of funding from the state for professional student support personnel -- counselors, school nurses," said Wayne County Superintendent Todd Alexander. "They have expanded the definition of professional student support personnel to include social workers and any professional that provides mental health services to children." There were 18 of those positions in the district last school year. This year, they are looking to hire an additional 14 to bring the district to 32. Alexander says the positions range from counselors to social workers, psychologists and board-certified analysts. "We think this is really going to help us address student needs as we head into the school year," Alexander said. He says they will be increasing counseling services at elementary schools across the county to cover regular school-based counseling, as well as hiring a number of counselors across the district who will go where the need is. … "Those counseling positions will be based more on mental health and addressing trauma issues throughout the district," Alexander said. Alexander says before the bill passed in June, the school district was set to receive around $760,000 in funding. However, after it passed, it almost doubled to $1.5 million…. He says a majority of the issues students face stem from the opioid crisis….