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Published May 29, 2012, 09:27 PM

MN Facing School Counselor Shortages; EGF No Exception

EAST GRAND FORKS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Minnesota is facing a shortage of school counselors state-wide. The average ratio of students to counselors is 459 to 1. But in East Grand Forks, the gap is much larger.

EAST GRAND FORKS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Minnesota is facing a shortage of school counselors state-wide. The average ratio of students to counselors is 459 to 1. But in East Grand Forks, the gap is much larger.

The ratio of students to counselors district-wide is 1,700 to two.

Although the need in East Grand Forks is mostly at the high school, the shortage is affecting the entire district.

"It comes down to priority and funding," East Grand Forks Superintendent David Pace said.

Funding is the main reason why the East Grand Forks school district can't add another counselor position. And it's come down to an ultimatum.

"School districts across the state have had to make that choice of counselors or class sizes that are extremely large," Pace said.

"It is what it is," Central Middle School Principal Lon Ellingson said.

At Central Middle School, 380 students share one counselor which is under the average ratio. But a few blocks away at Senior High School, it's 500 students to one, and district-wide all 1,700 students share just to counselors.

"That's the reality we're in for this kind of state," Pace said.

School counselors wear multiple hats in East Grand Forks. From family and academic issues to helping with career and college choices, school officials agree they're needed.

"There's no doubt, it definitely would be nice to have a second counselor," Pace said.

"It would always be nice to have more help," Ellingson said.

Pace says if the state decides to mandate more counselors per student, it must allow a budget.

"The reality is if you're going to pass that significant regulation, there has to be money tied to it," Pace said.

As of right now, there isn't a statewide mandate in the works that would require a certain number of counselors.

The East Grand Forks school district also has two social workers who help out and play the counselor role at the elementary schools.

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