First I want to thank the Roundup for its continued thoughtful coverage of issues related to our local school district. Second, because I’ve been pretty public regarding my sentiments on the eliminated RCMS counselor position, I want to weigh in on the current discussion of that position. I have met with Superintendent Hitchcock and shared with him the sentiments I am expressing in this letter.
Unfortunately, I missed the two most recent school board meetings, one because I was at the Missoula Children’s Theatre auditions and an Optimist Club meeting, and the other because I was simply unable to attend. In that time, PUSD administration and two members of the school board approved the posting of a counselor position, but without the requisite counselor qualifications. There is also the issue of transparency as this whole thing moved through pretty quickly.
After a discussion with an official at the Arizona Department of Education, it became pretty clear to me that PUSD is dancing on the edge here. Putting someone in a position that clearly specifies counseling duties, but doesn’t require an education in counseling, puts everyone at risk — the school district, the kids and the individual chosen for the position as well.
As the official noted, would we hire someone to coach football who knows the kids but isn’t a coach? I don’t think so. If the position is important, which the district now seems to agree it is, let’s do everyone a favor and make it available to individuals with the qualifications and experience expected of a school counselor. Yes, the academic year has started, but if we don’t even try to find the best qualified applicant for the job, there’s a high probability we won’t.