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.