Arizona Superintendent Hoffman Announces $21 Million To Hire School Counselors, Social Workers
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman has announced she’s allocating $21.3 million to hire more school counselors and social workers statewide as part of the School Safety Grant program.
The 2019 program did not have enough funding to provide all schools that requested new emotional support professionals. Hoffman has previously called on the governor and state lawmakers to allocate additional money to the program, but her calls have gone unanswered. So Hoffman decided to supplement the program with the Arizona Department of Education’s discretionary COVID-19 relief funds.
“Without federal recovery funds, these schools would still be waiting for the Legislature to act. This investment will provide the support and resources our students will need beyond the crisis of this moment," she said at a Monday press conference.
The original iteration of the program also including funding to hire school resource officers, but Hoffman said these positions are not as urgently needed as mental health resources are during the pandemic.
Student mental health has become a top issue during the COVID-19 pandemic and many legislators have used this issue to argue in favor of school reopenings, Hoffman said.
“But the majority party has offered no serious solutions for actually providing the social and emotional resources to students. Instead they have spent their time embracing conspiracy theories about the last election and passing legislation that targets and harms our LGBTQ students. ”
Select schools across 10 counties will be able to hire a total of 140 new counselors and social workers. But the funding is only good for two years. Hoffman said it’s not too late for lawmakers to act and is calling on them and other leaders currently working on the state budget to fully fund the program.
Hoffman expects the new emotional support professionals will be hired by the beginning of the next school year.