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Valley News Dispatch

Freeport Area students to have year-long counseling available

| Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, 1:45 p.m.

As Freeport Area School District officials are beefing up security at school buildings, they are addressing another security component — the students.

The district approved an agreement with the Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit (ARIN) to provide counseling services to students in the coming school year.

The action, in part, is in response to a request that students made in a letter to federal and state elected officials in March, asking that better mental health awareness procedures be put in place in public schools to help ensure student safety.

That followed the Feb. 14 slaying of 17 students and faculty members at Parkland High School in Florida by a fellow student.

It was also in March that the school board authorized $300,000 from the district’s capital reserve funds to improve security at the district’s four schools, Freeport Area High School, Freeport Area Middle School, Buffalo and South Buffalo elementary schools.

“It’s a more holistic approach (to security),” Superintendent Ian Magness said of the agreement with ARIN.

The district will pay ARIN for the services of a licensed professional counselor through June 30 of next year at a cost not to exceed $84,000.

Magness said, under the agreement, the district will have the services of a counselor five days a week. He said the counselor will be based in the high school but will cover all four of the district’s schools and assist all of the district’s 1,850 students with personal problems and issues.

Board President Dan Lucovich said the district’s administration did “a lot of hard work on this” before recommending the move.

“It’s being proactive versus reactive,” Magness said.

He was referring to the idea of counseling students to help them deal with adverse personal situations and the pressures they cause instead of letting those pressures lead students to lash out in a violent manner.

“Doctor Lucovich put it best. He said it’s about getting kids what they need,” Magness said

Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.

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