LOUISVILLE, Ky.-- Days into the new year inside of Kentucky's capitol, talks turned to school safety. Some lawmakers argue it's their top priority to make students safer while in the classroom. For some teachers and for Jefferson County's superintendent, that includes more mental health professionals inside schools.
- Lawmakers are talking school safety, as a new bill is drafted to include adding mental health professionals to schools.
- In Jefferson County, Superintendent Marty Polio plans to request funding to get access to a mental health professional to all JCPS schools.
- Some teachers say that without more mental health help on staff, they bear the burden of playing the role of counselor at times.
"I think that that's just priceless. I mean, I think that the mental health professionals- that's one thing we need," Rep. Tina Bojanowski (D- Jefferson) says. She's one teacher turned lawmaker. Bojanowski teaches special education to third through fifth graders at a Louisville elementary school.
That means, she works under Dr. Marty Polio, the superintendent of Jefferson County schools. He's promised to request money in the next budget to pay to hire more mental health professionals in his district, so that there's access to one at each school.
"All schools have access to school counselors who have access to training to support kids. But the responsibilities and job duties of counselors are wide. We're trying to reduce those," Dr. Polio says.
With counselors stretched thin, Bojanowski says that not only does she feel schools could be safer. She also feels her responsibilities as a teacher grow, to include the role of counselor at times.
"You think a teacher is just teaching- teaching content the child's learning and it's education. There's such a counseling aspect to it, to where... it's really a part of what we do and what's frustrating is when we have kids we know really need professional support and we want to make sure that they have it, because there's only so much that we can do," Bojanowski says.