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CASA GRANDE — Three new counselors have already started working at the middle schools in the Casa Grande Elementary School District and the district is searching for six more after getting a grant from the state.

Jennifer McClintic, director of learning support for CGESD, told the district Governing Board that the three new counselors at the middle schools have settled in well and are available two days a week. The district would like to expand their availability to more than two days a week in the future as funding becomes available.

It has been more than a decade since the district has had a counselor in any of its schools, she said. Budget cuts during the Great Recession led to leaving the positions unfilled.

The district has set up some rules for both staff and the counselors, so that the counselors can focus on helping students rather than getting sidetracked with administrative tasks that may be better handled by staff, such as signing excuses for students who may be tardy or absent, McClintic said. The district also has set a mission statement and standards that the district wants counselors to work with students on, such as social skills and learning strategies.

The district is also actively seeking to find six additional counselors it received funding for through a state school safety grant in December, McClintic said. Because there are so few student counselors in the workplace, the district is having a hard time finding counselors to recruit.

The hope is to eventually have at least one counselor at each of the district’s 12 schools who can meet with students more than once or twice a week, she said. The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250 students to one counselor. Most schools in the nation don’t meet that suggestion. The national average is about 454 students to one counselor. Arizona is one of the worst states, with a statewide average of more than 900 students to one school counselor.

The board also:

  • Awarded a $200,718 contract to JBS Contracting to replace the roof over the auditorium at Casa Grande Middle School. This will be the third new roof for the school, which is more than 50 years old.
  • Awarded a $74,825 contract to Five Oliver to reseal the roof on Villago Middle School.
  • Awarded a $227,700 contract to Kimley-Horn & Associates to assess the landscaping, driveways, irrigation systems, playgrounds, traffic circulation patterns and parking lots at each of the district’s schools and come up with a master plan to improve the landscaping and traffic flow at each school.