In light of Ms. Faley’s article in the Dixini regarding one counselor servicing 800 students, I'm compelled to share my thoughts. I taught at Dixon High School for 26 years, the last 11 years as a school counselor. I'm outraged and saddened that this school year, the counseling staff was reduced from three to two counselors.
Today, school counselors wear a number of hats: test coordinators; schedulers; social, emotional and personal counselors; career advisers; and college counselors. In addition, DHS caseloads have included a significant percentage of special needs students.
The American School Counseling Association recommends a ratio of 250 students per one counselor; this translates to a minimum of three counselors at DHS. Counselors at DHS have a caseload of 413 students each; during the 12 weeks Mrs. Ebert was on maternity leave, one counselor was assigned to 826 students.
Using enrollment data from the Illinois Interactive Report Card, it's evident that not one high school operates with the extreme number of students per counselor that have been assigned at DHS.
School Students Counselors Ratio
Sterling 1,039 4 260:1
Rochelle 940 4 235:1
Streator 889 3 296:1
Geneseo 866 3 289:1
Marengo 820 3 273:1
Dixon 826 2 413:1
I know this district has made an incredible number of cuts over the past few years, but there's no arguing that all students need support, guidance and opportunities during their high school years. This is a time of rapid growth and change, and our teens face unique and diverse challenges, both personally and developmentally, that impact academic achievement.
Certified school counselors are professional educators with a mental health perspective who understand and respond to these challenges.
As a former DHS counselor, and a four-decade citizen of this community, I hope and pray the Dixon School Board keeps in mind what is best for our students, not what appears to be a budget concern.