I won’t be voting ‘yes’ on a school levy until we have a full-time school counselor in place in our schools. What could be more important in our district than taking care of at least some of the great emotional needs of the students? I’ve heard all the politicians’ answers to this problem. They say we’re covered because Willapa [Behavioral Health] comes to the high school one day a week, one of the teachers has counselor credentials and we have a person who does drug and alcohol awareness. All these people have full-time positions, and they are not the position of a full-time counselor. I don’t believe they do any work in the grade schools.

I’m getting more kids in my office who refuse to attend Ilwaco High School because of bullying than ever before. I work with kids in grade school that won’t last to get to high school because of bullying in the elementary schools. That is just one issue that kids tell me they used to get some help with in school when there was a counselor on board.

One of my sons participated in a life-changing opportunity a couple of years ago because the school counselor told him about a Health-Science Institute at WSU for Native American students. He attended and returned home with the goal of becoming a nurse. Who gets those kinds of notifications for kids now? We were never notified again. Who helps kids with college scholarships, grants, career guidance? Who helps kids problem-solve and diffuse anger? Who do they trust to share abuse, violence and situations in their homes that make learning impossible?

I don’t want any more political answers to my questions. This district will continue to lose students until they do the obvious to help kids stay in school. No matter what my personal budget is, if my children need medical or emotional help, I am going to make that a priority. It’s time for this district to increase efforts for our kids to stay safe and get the emotional help and guidance they need by hiring at least one full-time school counselor. When that happens, I will vote ‘yes.’

Sherry Berteaux

Ilwaco

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