School counselor William Freeman supports students at Mount Rainier High School.

Here’s one way that Highline Public Schools plans to use its one-time emergency relief funds – investing in school counselors:

Recognizing that Highline Public Schools students will need extra social-emotional support due to the impacts of the pandemic, Superintendent Susan Enfield has decided to invest nearly $1 million to provide every school with at least one full-time counselor for 2021-22.

“While our students are incredibly resilient and full of promise, it is our job to know them by both strength AND need,” Enfield said.

“Some of our students may return to school buildings next year with increased needs. Because our budget and staffing are determined by our enrollment numbers, that would have meant reducing staff at some schools based on expected fall enrollment. I am grateful we can use our one-time emergency relief funds to bridge this gap and improve the ratio of support for our students this fall. This is the right thing to do.”

State funding for counselors is based on student numbers. With declining enrollment, Highline schools were funded for fewer counselors next school year. Highline will use federal COVID relief dollars to ensure:

    • Every elementary school has a full-time counselor.
    • Larger elementary schools will have two full-time counselors.
    • Three secondary schools will see an increase in counselors.

This federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding is one-time funding due to the pandemic. It is not ongoing funding. In 2022-23, however, the state will increase funding for counselors at high-poverty schools.

Highline plans to take advantage of the additional federal funds for 2021-22 to ensure students have additional support until the increased state funding kicks in.


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