School counselors would be given more time to counsel students in a bill passed by the House of Delegates Friday.
The bill changes state code to say full-time school counselors would have to spend at least 90 percent of their daily work time on direct or indirect counseling of at-risk students and other students.
House Finance Committee Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, says lawmakers have gotten reports of counselors being asked to do many other duties at school instead of counseling.
“They are aiding or doing other work within the school day instead of doing their jobs as counselors,” White said. “We felt like that if we could get up to 90 percent they could devote a lot more attention to the issues.”
Del. Linda Phillips, D-Wyoming, a former school counselor, says there would be many times a principal would ask her to take a teacher’s place in a classroom or do some other duty around the school.
House Education Committee Chair Mary Poling, D-Barbour, says it happens all the time.
“They’re easily assigned to other duties when a principal can’t find someone else to do the job,” Poling said.
She added counselors should be freed up to spend more time with at-risk students.
“They need some individual attention and this would give them that attention when our counselors are not staffed as high as they should be in our schools right now,” Poling said.
The bill heads to the state Senate for consideration.