The Anoka-Hennepin School District will continue to seek funding sources to extend mental health and other supports to students beyond the next school year, after district residents rejected a proposed levy. $ 11 million earlier this month.
About 55% of voters opposed the proposed new levy, but voters agreed to the renewal of the operating and improvement levies on existing fixed assets, with about 60% of voters in favor of each.
Some recently added student supports are funded by one-time federal funds received in July, but those dollars are expected to run out in June 2023.
The district added 20 counselors and social workers across the district to help students meet their social, emotional and mental health needs. Anoka-Hennepin also used a portion of the federal funds to help the youngest students in the district learn.
“We have intentionally worked to reduce our class sizes for K-3 classes and provided more support directly related to helping these early learners gain confidence in their reading and academic skills,” said Superintendent David Law. .
The counselor-to-student ratio at Anoka-Hennepin was approximately 500 students per counselor. Now it’s closer to 400 to 450 students per advisor, Law said.
The national recommendations target 300 students for each advisor, Law said.
In theory, Anoka-Hennepin could ask voters for the funding again next year, Law said, but that depends on the school board.
“Everywhere I go, people recognize that anxiety and mental health are issues plaguing our community – certainly with tragic things like suicides, but also just everyday challenges where students are preoccupied with things,” Law said. “People expect schools to have these resources and are frustrated when we don’t. “
For now, the district will continue to seek other funding opportunities, Law said.
At the state level, Anoka-Hennepin has made a priority call for the legislature to increase per-student funding for the Safe Schools tax, which can be used for mental health initiatives.
“We’ve been looking for ways to fund these things without going into the community for a number of years,” Law said. “And that was just an opportunity, as we were asking the community to make a commitment to our schools to consider this expense.”