April 4 (Boston) — Educators for Excellence-Boston (E4E-Boston), a teacher-led organization, is encouraged by Mayor Walsh’s proposed budget, which includes $2.4 million for hiring additional mental health experts for Boston Public Schools (BPS). If approved, the increased funding would raise the total number of psychologists from 65 to 72.
"In my testimony before the Boston School Committee I stressed that mental health professionals are essential to a strong school and offer critical services that teachers alone cannot provide,” says Matt Clark, a humanities teacher at West Roxbury Academy and E4E-Boston member. “I am happy to see that Mayor Walsh is increasing access to these key professionals, but I hope this is not the end of the conversation around supporting students with trauma."
While E4E-Boston applauds this increase, it recognizes that it does not go far enough. With the proposed budget, the number of BPS school psychologists would fall short of the National Association of School Psychologists’ recommended ratio of one psychologist per 700 students. The proposal does not mention increasing the number of guidance counselors in BPS even though the district does not meet the American School Counselor Association’s recommended ratio of one counselor per 250 students.
“This increased funding from Mayor Walsh is a great starting point, but there is still work to be done,” said Brandy Fluker-Oakley, Executive Director of E4E-Boston. “E4E-Boston applauds the teachers, parents, students and other advocates who worked tirelessly to push for more mental health professionals to serve children in BPS. Our teachers will continue to fight for all schools in Boston to be trauma-informed campuses that provide students with appropriate levels of support from guidance counselors and school psychologists.”
Nearly 400 teachers have signed E4E’s petition in support of its Schools that Heal campaign urging Governor Baker and the State Legislature to support students coping with trauma by including funding for school counselors and psychologists in the state budget.
The campaign originated from E4E-Boston’s teacher authored policy paper by the same name, which offered recommendations to improve professional development for trauma-informed teaching and increase mental health supports in schools.