Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2003
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez
Phone: (512) 463-0127

Sen. Lucio files bill establishing policies for school counselors' work time and roles regarding assessment tests

AUSTIN, Texas--Today state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) announced he has filed Senate Bill 251, which will direct all school districts to adopt a policy establishing the percentage of total work time a counselor spends on activities other than counseling or guidance activities and to define their role in administering and evaluating assessment tests.

SB 251 follows the recommendations of the Texas Comptroller's report issued last year, "Guiding Our Children Toward Success: How Texas School Counselors Spend Their Time." During the 77th legislative session, Sen. Lucio authored SB 518 to clarify the duties of all public school counselors and SB 538 to instruct the Texas Comptroller to conduct a statewide study on counselors' duties.

Sen. Lucio requested the detailed study to assess the current workload of counselors and to help identify any possible changes which would provide counselors with the resources and work environments they need to better perform their duties. Out of 9,942 surveys that were distributed among K-12 public school counselors, about 41 percent of counselors responded.

The average 2001-02 counselor-to-student ratio in Texas is 1 to 423. Elementary schools had the highest ratio (1:555). The report also identified that district wealth did not necessarily impact the ratios. The ratio disparity seemed to increase as the district enrollment increased. The study indicates that counselors spend up to 40 percent of their time on non-counseling activities, such as administrative tasks and administering statewide tests.

"This report finally recognizes public school counselors in Texas and the importance of their jobs, which cannot be overstated," said Sen. Lucio. "SB 251 will help strengthen the role of public schools, by allowing counselors to be the catalysts who bring together school officials, teachers, parents and students. This legislation should assist counselors in helping students address their concerns and work toward solutions more effectively."

"Counselors today provide important prevention and intervention services to many of our children," said Sen. Lucio. "Intervention activities address societal problems such as substance abuse, child abuse, suicide, teen pregnancy, truancy, school dropouts, and random acts of violence."

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Note: Staff member handling legislation is Ms. Perla Cavazos, senior policy analyst, 512-463-0385.

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