When the General Assembly convenes next week, legislation will be introduced that calls for more health care workers in schools and funding for an app that would allow for students to anonymously report threatening situations.
Members of the House Select Committee on School Safety voted to introduce legislation that would bring school social workers, counselors, nurses and psychologists’ student ratios in line with CDC recommendations. One nurse for every 750 students is recommended but the state average is 1 to 2,300 students. A state senate report found it could cost as much as $79 million a year to reach that ratio for nurses alone. Committee member Rep. Josh Dobson says they know the costs will be vast but that the safety of children otherwise will be at risk.
He says the legislation will also address the severe shortage of school psychologists.
“Currently there is no agreement in place to allow psychologists from out of state to practice in North Carolina without going through a cumbersome application process and licensure procedures,” Dobson said. “This bill will change that to allow those with national certification to practice in North Carolina.”
In addition, the proposed legislation would call for $5 million to pay for an app to allow students to anonymously report suspicious behavior or potentially threatening situations. Committee members say a pilot program using an app over the past three years in five counties proved effective in averting situations involving underage drinking, weapons and fights. Students would also be able to report incidents involving bullying, drugs, threats, suicide and neglect and abuse cases. The bill would also call for $1 million for a student peer counseling training program and $1.8 million to hire additional police officers in elementary and middle schools.
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