CPS Officials Say Mental Illness on the Rise in District

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COLUMBIA - Outreach and guidance counselors from the Columbia Public School district are giving a presentation Monday night to the school board about hiring more outreach counselors.  Outreach counselors are trained mental health professionals who deal specifically with counseling and screening students for mental illnesses.  The additional staff would be funded by the proposed bond and tax levy which is up for vote on April 3.

Ann Baker, an outreach counselor at Gentry and Smithton Middle Schools, said that in-patient hospitalization and thoughts of suicide have been on the rise in the district. 

Baker said counselors want to hire an outreach counselor for every secondary school in the district, which includes middle, junior and high schools.  Currently there is one full-time outreach officer each at Oakland and Jefferson Junior High Schools and Hickman High School. 

An email sent out by the Columbia Public Schools said if passed, the bond issue and tax levy proposal would cost an owner of a $150,000 home an additional $148.20 per year.  To learn more about the bond issue and tax levy proposal click here.