Fresno Schools Put More Emphasis on Students’ Emotional Health – GV Wire

Fresno Unified students have been improving academically since returning to class, but still struggle with social-emotional issues and need even more support, according to district officials.

On Wednesday, they previewed a proposal to increase resources aimed at improving student mental health and wellbeing. The school board will review the budget plan at its next meeting.

Although the board has received budget presentations at its meetings over the past two months, this was the first time the district had held a press conference to discuss specific expenses, a sign that officials wanted to emphasize students and their socio-emotional well-being. -be.

Many continue to struggle with depression, anxiety and anger, emotions that surfaced during the pandemic and have continued to plague them, Superintendent Bob Nelson said.

Invest in socio-emotional resources

Over the past 10 years, the district has increased spending on social-emotional resources and learning by $5 million to the $38 million proposed for the 2022-23 school year budget, he said. .

Over that period, headcount has also grown, from 50 employees five years ago to “well over 200” in the budget proposal, Nelson said. The majority work at school sites where they have direct contact with students, he said.

(Editor’s note: This story originally reported that the funding and staffing increases occurred over five years. The district said Thursday that Nelson misspoke at Wednesday’s press conference and should have said that the increases occurred over 10 years.)

What is the impact of socio-emotional well-being and learning on academics? Students dealing with emotional issues may be too distracted to focus on their academic work, he said.

Council clerk Veva Islas, who represents the McLane High School area, said she has seen firsthand in her work as a nonprofit leader the struggles families have faced during the pandemic over food, housing and even funerals.

“So those investments are what care looks like,” Islas said, referring to the proposed additional dollars for the District Prevention and Response Department. “These investments are what love looks like. These investments are what prevention looks like, and I’m very proud to be in the space where we’re making that happen for our kids.

Students who are better adjusted are less likely to act violently, making schools safer and more secure and decreasing the need for intervention and discipline, she said.

The district’s presentation was sparked in part by recent news of a brawl at Fresno High School and fights that took place on other campuses.

Superintendent says community needs to step up

However, the district’s work to help students improve their social and emotional well-being is only part of the equation, Nelson said.

Students who come from dysfunctional homes will always struggle, and so it’s up to families and the wider community to work for healthier and more positive outcomes, he said.

“This is a community driven solution. If you’re waiting for school districts to fix your kids’ social-emotional health without any input from you, it’s a wild ride,” Nelson said. “It’s something that we all need to do. It needs to be in every home and in every nonprofit…and it’s just something that’s really important.

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