Students would be assured of adequate access to school counselors, not only for career guidance but to address trauma and mental health needs during these stressful times, under legislation moving through the Senate.

“Our schools employ counselors for a reason, and I happen to think it’s a very important reason,” said Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), the bill’s sponsor. “I know our schools are doing their best to make up for shortages in staffing by stretching employees as far as possible, but many are stretching our counselors too thin.”

Senate Bill 5030, passed last year by the Senate but not by the House, requires schools to allow counselors to focus at least 80 percent of their work week on their primary duties rather than on non-counseling tasks assigned by administrators. The bill would leave administrators the flexibility to assign up to 20 percent of a counselor’s work week to address other school needs.

“If our schools are short on support staff, then we need to find a way to get them the money to hire adequate staff,” Mullet said. “The answer is not to divert counselors or other staff from their jobs but to make sure our schools are sufficiently funded.”

SB 5030 was heard and passed out of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee last week and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.