While the time for county leaders to vote on a budget involving Hamilton County Schools winds down, conversations continue to heat up.

Now, the discussion is about increasing counselors in schools.

Currently, for every 700 students in Hamilton County, there's only one counselor.

After several focus groups with the community, Superintendent Doctor Bryan Johnson wants to move closer to the national average.

Unfortunately, that still may not be enough. After talking with students, parents, and faculty the need for more support staff is clear.

Johnson proposed a budget that would provide one counselor for every 500 students.

That's roughly an additional 25 counselors.

“So, we are not even at the national average. It just gets a little bit closer to helping students across this county,” Dr. Bryan Johnson.

Counselor Yohunnah Woods-Moton agrees – our students need someone to talk to.

The children she sees may be suffering from anxiety, depression, or have suicidal thoughts. “Many of them experience things that they would not experience until much later in life,” said Moton.

Moton says some of the warning signs are not performing well, not sleeping, and having other issues with getting involved.

Johnson says he wants to invest in bringing out the best in every student. “This is a children-based budget,” said Johnson. “This budget is about the future of Hamilton County.”

Unfortunately, this budget does not solve all of Hamilton County School problems, but Moton acknowledges it's a start. In her professional opinion, if we could get down to about 50 students to one counselor, then that would be ideal.

“Working with them in a manner that's appropriate for them, and where they will respond,” said Moton. “So, they can discuss various things in a comfortable manner.”

County leaders are expected to vote on the budget next week.

If the school system does not get the money needed, then counselors won't be added.

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