HB 1401 Seeks to Increase the Number of School Nurses, Counselors, and Social Workers (May 19, 2019)

On May 8, 2019, HB 1401 was referred to the House Education Committee. The bill would require one school nurse for every 750 students, one school psychologist for every 500 students, and a school counselor and social worker for every 250 students. In essence, the proposed legislation would cut the maximum ratio of students to school nurses in half and establish minimum staffing requirements for other professionals who work with students.

Current PA law requires schools to have one nurse for every 1,500 students and sets no minimum for school psychologists, school counselors, and social workers.

Increasing the number of school counselors and mental health professionals was a recommendation made by Governor Wolf’s School Safety Task Force.

Although PAPSA recognizes the need for increased staff in these areas, concerns voiced by PASPA President Tom Burnheimer include the need for added funds to help pay for the additional staff, as well as the shortage of school nurses, counselors, and school psychologists that is currently being experienced throughout the Commonwealth.

HB 1415 Introduced in PA House, Would Require Trauma-Informed Polices & Procedures (May 19, 2019)

HB 1415, a bipartisan bill being introduced in the PA House, is  aimed at creating trauma-informed school environments throughout the state in order to help ensure that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are recognized in the school setting so children can get the support they need. The bill would require trauma-informed policies and procedures (including such things as positive behavior supports, restorative justice, and resiliency), as well as training for school staff, new school board members, and even postsecondary students pursuing a degree in education.

According to Rep. Christina Sappey, one of the bill’s sponsors, “[t]his legislation would help teachers and staff in schools to get the training they need to recognize the signs of childhood trauma and assist in overcoming the hurdles students face in school due to the severe impacts on their brain development and functionality, as revealed by decades of research.”

An identical bill is being introduced in the PA Senate.

Thanks to Media News group for information contained in this story.

Nazareth Club Named Aevidum Club of the Year; PAPSA Members Collaborate to Provide Excellent Training Program Opportunity (May 15, 2019)

The Nazareth High School Aevidum Club has been named the 2018-2019 Aevidum Club of the Year. As per the Aevidum Facebook page, “[t]hese amazing student leaders and their very dedicated advisor, Mary Pritchard, have spread the Aevidum message all throughout the state of Pennsylvania, training nearly 2,500 students since 2015.” Mary Pritchard is the PAPSA 2017-18 Robert Cormany Award winner.

One of the most noteworthy of Nazareth’s achievements in 2018-19 was its collaboration with Greater Latrobe Senior High School whereby Nazareth students gave training to GLSD leaders on things from coping with personal anxiety to helping others who may be struggling. Nazareth students also stayed with a few of the Greater Latrobe students for the night to gain a better understanding of the GLSD school environment.

Other schools form that area of Western PA, including Mount Pleasant and Norwin, also came to Greater Latrobe to see how Aevidum could be of benefit to their schools.

The Nazareth-Greater Latrobe collaborative effort saw PAPSA’s Mary Prtichard link with PAPSA Executive Board member Dr. Cindy Soltys (Retried from Greater Latrobe) and PAPSA member Laurie Golobish (Greater Latrobe’s Director of Pupil Services) to make the program a terrific success.  PAPSA member Stacey Snyder, Norwin’s Director of Special Education and Student Services helped to facilitate her school district’s participation. It is wonderful to see these valued PAPSA members working together on such a worthwhile project.

Though Aevidum began with a small group of motivated students and educators at Cocalico Senior High School in Denver, PA in 2003, it has since expanded across the Commonwealth and beyond.

PDH Releases May 2019 School Health Update (May 10, 2019)

On Friday, May 10, 2019, Jill Clodgo, RN,  Chief, Division of School Health, Pennsylvania Department of Health released the May 2019 School Health Update. Highlights from the Report include:

The complete report can be accessed at http://papsa-web.org/wp-content/uploads/2019-School-Health-Update-May-2019.pdf.

State Legislators Unveil 14-Bill Package to Help Create Safer and Healthier Schools (May 10, 2019)

On Wednesday, May 8th, in the spirit of creating a safer and healthier school environment for Pennsylvania’s schoolchildren, a 14-bill “Beyond Safe Schools” package has been proposed by legislators. Those legislators – all democrats – are proposing an increase in funding to hire school staff that are primarily in the pupil services field (i.e., counselors, school nurses and social workers). School librarians are also included in the funding proposal.

One bill is offering a bill to cut in half the student-to-school nurse ratio from the current 1,500:1 to 750:1. Another bill would increase funding to schools that serve students who are homeless, chronically absent, and in foster care; would fund a study to determine a means whereby schools can measure the number of students experiencing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma in their lives; and would provide funding for pupil services staff (e.g., social workers and psychologists)  to help afflicted students.

Other bills in the package would increase training requirements for school police officers and security officers; mandate pediatricians to do depression screenings, reporting the number of suicides and attempted suicides on school grounds to the PA Office of Safe Schools; and require instruction regarding bullying prevention and cultural diversity.