Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Utah House Votes To Make Hiring Elementary School Counselors A Priority

Lee Hale

Utah’s House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would increase the number of elementary school counselors in the state.

The sponsor of HB223, Republican Representative Steve Eliason, said he’s never been lobbied more for a bill that’s he’s crafted.


“I was receiving emails from teachers and school counselors saying I strongly encourage you to support this bill," Eliason said. "And then I’d inform them, I’m the sponsor. I have to vote for the bill.”


Eliason said the strong support for the bill is in response to a need for more elementary school counselors. And that better emotional and social support for younger students can prevent more complicated issues down the road.


This bill would use $1 million of the state’s education funds to give matching grants to schools willing to hire counselors.


Democratic Representative Marie Poulson spoke in favor of the bill. She referenced a recent experience she had while visiting elementary schools in her district.


“The children are served all three meals [at school]. And there are washers and dryers in the office where they get their clothes cleaned," Poulson said.


Poulson said it reminded her of the need for more comprehensive support at schools.


The bill passed 71 votes to 2. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.