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Mon’s excess levy helps fund emotional health component of county schools

MORGANTOWN — Many boosters of the excess levy for Monongalia County schools are being quite literal when they talk about how the measure is good for the overall health of the district.

Not just fiscal health, they’ll say. Social and emotional health, too.

School counselors and social workers are on the district’s payroll courtesy of the measure, which is up for vote Saturday. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. across Morgantown and Mon.

Nurses, counselors. Classroom aides, with instruction and knowledge of a student’s particular health considerations.

Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. discussed the levy earlier this month with The Dominion Post.

He sat down with the newspaper’s editorial board to talk about excess levy and just what its $32 million means to a county such as Monongalia, which is a cross-section of diversity and a patchwork quilt of economy.

“Look at our outreach specialists, which is a fancy name for social worker,” he said. “There are very few counties in the state that have them, and we were the first to have them.”

Campbell said Mon’s excess levy allows the district to shoot past the state aid formula for health services in West Virginia schools – which comes out to about $4,500 per student in a public district.

Mon’s district is staffed by 16 certified school nurses, two licensed practical nurses and 22 certified nursing aids.

Add that to the 36 full-time counselors and 11 psychologists also at work in county schools, he said.

It’s all about student well-being, Michael Ryan.

West Virginia’s School Counselor of the Year for 2018 worked in Mon schools before moving over the central office, where he now heads the district’s office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Since the pandemic hit, the office has honed its mission even more. That means feedback from teachers, parents and the students themselves.

It’s as easy as it is complex, Ryan said. Often times, he mused, it can be whittled down to a question that isn’t always ventured.

“We never ask, ‘Well, what do the students think?’ ”

Campbell thinks students are operating under untold pressure – and that the district is fundamentally obligated to help.

“The days of just teaching in a classroom and that being good schooling are long gone,” the superintendent said. “There is just so much that these kids when they walk through the door.”