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Governor Little calls for mental health resources, funding in budget for educators

Posted: 12:25 PM, Jan 13, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-13 14:25:29-05

BOISE — Educators often have to get money for mental health resources and training from other areas of funding. Governor Little wants that to change and have it come from one designated place.

"We know kids are coming to school nowadays with trauma-induced situations in their lives, and we want to help them be successful in the classroom," said superintendent Sherri Ybarra.

At his State of the State address, governor little spoke about allotting mental health resources and training for educators.

"My budget provides teachers additional training and resources so they can identify and better serve students facing trauma and mental illness, giving parents peace of mind when they send their children to school each day," said Little.

The recommendation is $1,000,000 for Social-Emotional Learning, which allows teachers to identify what resources they need to help students who are coping with trauma and mental illness.

"We here at the State Department [of Education] are very local control-oriented, and that's why we asked for the money the way that we did, yes it's a line item, very focused, laser-like focused on the conditions for learning," said Ybarra, "but the way we want to see that happen, is the funds get distributed out to the districts and they use the funds as needed."

The thought is educators know their students and community best, and Ybarra wants them to have the flexibility of funds to meet whatever needs are most present.

"Maybe down in the Twin Falls area, they need to focus on behavioral intervention supports, and maybe up north they're looking on focusing on suicide ideation, it depends on what their community and what their students are facing and what their needs are," said Ybarra.

The next question becomes, how much of a fight will they need to prepare for in the legislature? Ybarra says it's too early to tell, but what she can speak to, is a feeling.

"The feeling is good right now about recognizing this is resource kids and teachers need," said Ybarra.

While the governor and legislature have a considerable balancing act ahead of them, Ybarra says making education a priority is very exciting.