Common sense tells us reasonable caseloads for other licensed education professionals are significant in helping students succeed.
That is why NSEA has been supportive of efforts across legislative sessions to address the issue of unreasonable caseloads for specialized instructional support personnel.
We applaud Senator Dondero Loop for continuing her efforts to address this issue through Senate Bill 151.
Senate Bill 89 from the 2019 Legislative Session directed the State Board of Education to develop recommendations for the ratio of students to specialized instructional support personnel. Based on national best practices, the Board recommended one school counselor and one school social worker per 250 pupils and one school psychologist per 500 pupils.
Current caseloads are far from these recommended numbers. As of 2020, Nevada’s rations were 1:463 for counselors, 1:1843 for psychologists, and 1:1174 for social workers.
While this work rose out of school safety concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic and impact on schools and kids has further elevated the importance of counselors, psychologists, and social workers in school communities. Students returning to school buildings this year are finding systems to support their mental health and social and emotional needs are totally overburdened. Nevada schools are in desperate need of more highly trained counselors, psychologists, and social workers. With starting pay and benefits averaging between $62,000 and $77,000, recruitment and retention in these rigorous fields is very difficult.
That is why NSEA is proposing Nevada treat these occupations similarly to teachers who have become Nationally Board Certified with a 5% salary enhancement.
This will both help with recruitment and retention while also incentivizing school counselors, psychologists, and social workers to achieve the highest standard of practice in their profession.