Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson proposed that the state legislature replace a 1991 public school mandate which requires school counselors to spend 75 percent of their time working directly with students with one that requires counselors spend 90 percent of their time with students.
Gov. Hutchinson announced this proposal in the speech given to the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators Superintendent Symposium. Hutchinson argued that the increased time would benefit students who are facing neglect, abuse, or some other trauma.
Superintendents agreed that the goals were well-intentioned. However, the superintendents questioned how counselors’ schedules could be rearranged to allow for this proposal.
Although no bill has been filed yet, the school districts would be required to create their own scheduling systems to accomplish this.
Most school counselors are not trained in mental health care, but rather focus on career and academic advice. Gov. Hutchinson stated, “Obviously these are not counselors that are trained in all kinds of mental illnesses. They have to be the gatekeeper to refer them out to the community if there’s a serious mental health issue.”