SUMMIT, Wash. -- Federal Medicaid cuts may cause elementary school counselors in the most at-risk schools to lose their jobs. With about $4 million less in Federal Medicaid Match Program funds, the Franklin-Pierce School District could lose four counselors.
“It’s a little unnerving,” said Emily Weber, a counselor at Central Avenue Elementary School.
Districts may lose up to 80% of their funding next year. Weber fears for not only her job, but for the students that desperately need her help.
Seventy percent of her students come from poverty and require physical, emotional and mental help. Some are shown how to access aid; others are given food backpacks to take home each weekend.
“A lot of family’s basic needs aren’t being met and that’s where I step in,” she said.
If the cuts go through, there would be one counselor to serve nearly 750 students.
Gates Alternative High School is also worried.
“We’re not just talking one kid; entire families are going to be impacted,” said Val Jones, principal.
Students are given important drug and mental counseling as well as other outreach services. Without them, many would fall through the cracks.
“Drop outs for sure. We’re talking about drugs, mental health. We’re talking about victims of violence,” said Jones.
Zaire McDonald, 17, attends the school and credits his turnaround to the available programs there. Many fear the alternative.
“Probably just work at a fast food restaurant the rest of their life,” said McDonald.
“It’s worrisome to think I won’t be able to help those students,” said Weber.
The situation isn’t related to the Federal Sequester cuts.
According to the Franklin-Pierce School District, elementary school counselors are crucial and are trying to find the money to maintain current staffing levels. The cuts could take effect next school year.