PSBA supports the prioritization of the mental health and safety needs of students. (Adopted by the PSBA Delegate Assembly as a legislative priority issue for the 2023-24 session of the General Assembly.)
School districts must provide safe and supportive school environments for their students. Students’ mental and emotional health impacts their ability to learn, the safety and security of our schools, the classroom environment for all students, and the work environment for teachers and staff.
One of the most pressing needs facing school leaders has been addressing the mental health needs of their students. With student social-emotional issues impacting learning being the top instructional challenge facing school districts according to the annual State of Education report, many districts are expanding their programs and services to address this growing need. Public schools need flexibility to be able to provide an array of varied mental health services that are built on a strong foundation of consistent school programs and access to well trained professionals.
Schools need adequate and continued state resources in order to supplement current mental health programs and services and to help with continued funding of these programs and services as one-time federal pandemic and state mental health grant dollars are exhausted. These critical funds allow districts to provide additional mental health staff and services that best meet the needs of their students and communities.
PSBA also supports common sense efforts to help our schools in safety matters while emphasizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to providing safe school environments. School districts are vastly different throughout Pennsylvania in their needs and, therefore, the best approaches to school safety must often be determined at the local school district level. The state must provide schools with continued and long-term funding, assistance and flexible options that best meet the needs of their communities to provide safe and secure school environment. Grants should also be available to assist schools in meeting safety and security preparedness initiatives, including funds for physical security enhancements, personnel, training and other needs.
A Closer Look: The 2022-23 state budget and the need for resources for student mental health — School districts call on the state to prioritize and adequately fund efforts to promote the mental and emotional health of students.