650-to-1 counselor ratio ridiculous

The ridiculous ratio of students to counselors at Gilroy High
School
– 650 to 1 – isn’t unique in cash-strapped public schools in
California, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.
The ridiculous ratio of students to counselors at Gilroy High School – 650 to 1 – isn’t unique in cash-strapped public schools in California, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

High school students are making decisions that will impact the direction of their lives, and they need adequate information and sound advice to make wise choices. Students need to understand what courses they should take in order to be considered by their preferred colleges and universities. They should know what grade point averages, extracurricular activities, and test scores those schools demand. They should be able to get direction for help in raising GPAs and test scores, on financial aid and scholarship programs and core and elective class decisions.

That’s not likely to happen with a student-to-counselor ratio of 650 to 1. Some students are blessed with parents who know how to find this information and will be just fine with limited counseling services, but many are not.

Many, faced with financial and other challenges, need even more than standard counseling support to achieve to their potential.

We simply cannot let the counseling status quo at GHS stand. But, we also recognize that pots of money are not likely to land in the district’s coffers.

So, creative thinking on a number of fronts will be necessary to remedy this situation. The first place to look, as always, is the budget. In keeping with the notion that direct impact on students should be the first priority, school board members should review the budget carefully and ask tough questions about each position’s relevance to the students. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of adding hard-working counselors.

In addition, the district should seek alternate ways of getting basic counseling information to students and parents. Post it on the GUSD Web site. Host monthly “Counseling 101” meetings in the evening or on the weekend where college requirements, financial aid, testing and scholarship information is presented in English and in Spanish. Advertise the meetings widely to make sure all students and parents know where to get the basic information. Train parent volunteers to provide the basic information on campus to free counselors to handle the more complex cases.

And finally, look for grant money. Whether its from the Stupski Foundation or some other source, perhaps there is a way to make that bag of money appear after all.

One counselor for every 650 students is not nearly good enough. Gilroy can do better.

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