The Senate today passed legislation to ensure students have adequate access to school counselors, not only for career guidance but to address trauma and mental health needs during increasingly stressful times.

“These are people with master’s degrees who are trained to change our kids’ lives, and yet they’re being tapped to pull recess duty or proctor tests or do whatever’s needed in the course of the day,” said Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), the bill’s sponsor. “My bill requires schools to allow counselors to focus at least 80 percent of their work week on their primary duties, which is to improve our kids’ lives for the better.”

Senate Bill 5030 still allows administrators the flexibility to assign up to 20 percent of a counselor’s work week on non-counseling tasks to address other school needs.

“A counselor can fundamentally alter the trajectory of a kid’s life,” Mullet said. “They have a hugely important role — to help students be the most they can be — and they need to be available when and as our students need them.”

Having passed the Senate on a 48-1 vote, SB 5030 now goes to the House for consideration. A previous version of the bill passed the Senate handily in 2020 but failed to receive a hearing in the House. Mullet said he was optimistic this year’s bill will clear both chambers.