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Manteca expanding elementary counseling
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Enhanced counseling services for elementary school students are coming to Manteca Unified.
Last week the Manteca Unified Board of Education voted unanimously to approve spending $150,000 to launch a pilot program that will provide two school sites with the services of a highly-trained counselor as part of a pilot program to determine whether the program is feasible throughout the district.
In order to facilitate the program for the 2017/18 school year, the funding will be appropriated during future budget revises to ensure that the framework can be laid.
The proposal was placed on the agenda by trustee Kathy Howe.
While the program wasn’t the $1.5 million model that the board discussed in December – where one full-time student support specialist would be placed at each of the K-8 sites as well as full-time prevention counselors under the guidance and leadership of a Mental Health-certified school psychologist – the program will give the district more feedback as to how best to incorporate a feasible option that fits within the budget while at the same time serving the needs of a growing student population.
Howe served on a committee that included Senior Elementary Education Director Cheryl Meeker and Assistant Superintendent Roger Goatcher as well as several site principals, and Howe championed the idea of “preventative counseling” to help students with issues before they become serious problems – one of the factors that the committee took into consideration when reviewing the available models and which would fit best within the district’s existing framework.
No further discussion about wider implementation was made by the board, and short of some financing questions by Board President Stephen Schluer and supportive comments by Howe, the rest of the board was relatively mum on the topic that had been discussed in great detail at the end of last year.
Other programs discussed at that meeting included a program operated by Valley Community Counseling which would have cost the district just over $1 million, where each of the schools in the district would receive a set number of counseling hours during the school year per the contract. Trauma counseling and staff counseling would have been provided free of charge under that model.
An enhanced model that provided 35 hours of counseling was also an option when the board discussed the options back in January – also provided by Valley Community Counseling.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.