Fiscal Year 2017 → Question 17
There are certified, professional school counselors in each elementary, middle, and high school in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). School counselors are critical partners in the delivery of a high-quality education for all students and contribute significantly to the removal of barriers to learning.
School counselors work in partnership with school staff members to teach skills that are necessary for academic success and promote positive academic, personal, interpersonal, health, and career development for all students. Counselors equip students to embrace their full potential and to strive to achieve their personal and academic aspirations.
In all schools, school counselors:
There is a recognized difference in the roles and responsibilities of the elementary school counselor versus the secondary school counselor. While secondary school counselors perform many tasks related to scheduling and college and career readiness, the elementary school counselor is able to focus on the social-emotional development of kindergarten through Grade 5 students. Additional tasks of the elementary school counselor include:
As of September 30, 2015, 74,385 kindergarten through Grade 5 elementary school students were enrolled in MCPS. There are 136.8 full-time equivalent (FTE) elementary school counselors employed for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. Typically, MCPS allocates a 1.0 FTE counselor to each elementary school, with the following exceptions listed below due to either high enrollment in MCPS’s largest schools or Title I schools that have an enrollment greater than 500 students and a Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS) rate of at least 60 percent.
* Indicates a Title 1 school.
✝ Matsunaga created a second FTE counselor position by reducing staffing allocations in another area.
During the 2013–2014 school year, the Board approved a proposal to increase the number of student services staff members to provide comprehensive and preventative social-emotional supports to students. At that time, the recommendation was to increase the number of elementary school counselors by 0.5 FTE at schools with high enrollment (greater than 500 students) and a 60 percent FARMS rate or higher over a five-year period. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, this recommendation was placed on hold after the first year of implementation. No additional counselor positions were added in FY 2016.
Based on a review of the averages for counselor-to-student ratios in elementary schools in other school districts, and the different roles and responsibilities of the elementary counselor, the following is a recommendation for staffing of elementary counselors. It will result in a projected average ratio of 465:1 in elementary schools. Once the guideline is implemented we would review and determine if additional adjustments to the guideline are needed. Please note that enrollment data are for kindergarten through Grade 5 students only. Prekindergarten students, with their shorter day and additional resources and supports, were not included for the purposes of elementary counselor allocations.
Using this model and projected FY 2017 enrollment figures, an additional 15.0 FTE counselors would need to be added to the budget at a cost of $1,092,690. It is important to note that this approach would require the five schools with part time counselors to have a .5 reduction in one of the other three positions. (Schools with a reduction of .5 select between staff development teacher, media specialist, counselor, and reading specialist).
The additional 15.0 FTEs would result in an average elementary ratio for counselors of 465:1. The ratios for elementary school counselors for other large Maryland districts can be found in the table below:
At this time we do not have data on national averages for elementary schools.