Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

October 5, 2013

Taylor High School officials report crisis in counseling of teenagers

Local counselors say tight budgets have stretched them thin.

(Continued)

Baltz admitted it would be nice to have an additional counselor at the school.

She serves 400 students there, which would be an improvement on the state’s ratio if she didn’t also have to pick up duties at Taylor Middle School.

The middle school counselor retired a few years ago, and there wasn’t enough money in the budget to replace her, Baltz said.

“With budgets and money, it’s become much tighter,” she said.

Baltz knows she is far from reaching the perfect students to counselor ratio. The magic number is 250:1, she said.

She’s not alone, though.

Kokomo High School has five counselors to serve 2,000 students, said Dave Barnes, director of communications for Kokomo School Corp. That means each counselor is responsible for roughly 400 teens.

Maple Crest Middle School has one counselor for its 600 students. Bon Air Middle School almost hits that magic number. It has one counselor for its 270 students.

When the numbers go up, prioritizing becomes important. That’s something Baltz and the counselors in Kokomo Schools agreed on.

Baltz does whatever she can to increase face time with students. That’s how she’s going to make the biggest difference, she said.

That means her secretary helps her with some of the administrative tasks. A registrar helps her deal with transcripts and credit hours. And often teachers step up to help her work with students. School groups have volunteered to help her run the district’s food pantry. In times of crisis, community groups step in as well, she said.

Baltz was recently called to Taylor Middle School to offer support following a student death. A parent, who is also a psychologist, came to help out. The middle school youth pastor at Crossroads Community Church was also on hand to work with kids.

To Kokomo High School counselor Mike Susong, there’s nothing more important than establishing connections with students.

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