For the 2022-2023 school year, the Student Services division will expand to include new positions: an additional counselor for each grade level, a 504 Plan Coordinator, an increase in social workers, and a Bilingual Coordinator.
“I’m really excited about these additions,” Director of Student Services Leslie Owens said. “I think it is a huge step for LT, and I think students are going to see a lot of good service that comes out of this.”
Previously, LT has had three counselors per grade level, as well as three support counselors available to all students. However, this school year, the support counselors were put onto the grade level counseling teams for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to increase their grade levels from three counselors to four. The additional counselor being added in the fall will allow for every grade level to have four counselors, meaning that each counselor will have a caseload of 250 students as opposed to approximately 340. This decrease in caseload will ensure that LT follows the recommended number of students per counselor and allows for more individualized service to students, Owens said.
Currently, LT has one social worker for each grade level, with an additional social worker to help with overflow caseload. For the next school year, there will be three social workers per campus; however, the long-term goal is to have two social workers per grade level, Owens said.
“We’ve had a huge increase in students who are struggling with mental health issues and the pandemic exacerbated that,” Owens said. “So, in thinking through what our students need and how we can address that, we [realized we] needed more staff.”
One of the new positions is the 504 Plan Coordinator, Owens said. This position will oversee paperwork regarding legal documents that explain accommodations and supports for students with disabilities, as well as ensure that the needs of students with 504 Plans are being met properly.
The other new position is the Bilingual Coordinator. LT has approximately 150 students who are designated as English learners, meaning that English is not the language they speak at home and they have taken a test with results that demonstrate they are still working on English proficiency, Owens said. The Bilingual Coordinator will make sure that LT’s English learner program is high quality and that these students are learning English as well as the other academic skills they need.
“We feel, with the increased number of English learners and students with 504 Plans, that these are important additions to make,” Superintendent Brian Waterman said. “This is also an important part of ensuring we are appropriately supporting all student populations.”
The process for pitching these new positions began last year when Owens noticed gaps in the staffing of the Student Services division, she said. As a result, Owens put together a multiphase pitch for the Board of Education. Before pitching it to the Board, Owens solicited feedback from Waterman, HR and business directors, which led her to revise her proposal.
The hiring process began in March, with the jobs being posted as soon as the new positions were approved by the board, Owens said. Owens then sat down with division chairs of social services and language arts to discuss skills and attributes needed for each role prior to the interviews, which took place in April. Once the candidates are chosen, all new hires will be approved by the board in June, so that there is adequate time to prepare for the start of the school year in August.
“In general, Student Services is an area that has continued to evolve throughout the past 10 to 12 years,” Waterman said. “As a result, we also have to evolve because Student Services is a critical component of the overall supports we provide to students.”