There has been a significant increase in behavior concerns in our schools across all levels within the past year – particularly in middle and high school. The impact of the pandemic and other factors on mental health and student behavior is causing concerns for our students, teachers, administrators, district staff, families, and the entire community. We must work together to develop solutions.
ACCPTA has met and continues to meet with district staff to discuss these concerns and find out what the community can do to help. In December, the district let us know they would be conducting a pilot program that would provide two days of focused behavioral training to three teachers at a small number of elementary, middle and high schools. This is a start, but we know there is more to be done.
Staff shortages at schools are contributing to the problem, including a shortage of School Counselors that has worsened this past year. None of our schools have the recommended counselor to student ratio (1:250), which is a statewide issue ACCPTA has been advocating about for many years. Many local schools have openings for counselors that remain unfilled. In addition, our local middle schools lost much-needed behavior paraprofessional positions last summer. We are advocating to get these positions back, as we believe this will have a positive impact on student behavior. We are inquiring about restoring alternative school environments to provide high needs students with the assistance they need. We also continue to advocate for more bus attendants to address behavior issues on some buses.
This spring, ACCPTA partnered with the UF Department of Clinical Health and Psychology to provide monthly Wellness Wednesday virtual workshops on topics to help address student behavior. View recordings below, including our most recent topic: Reducing Aggression & Bullying. Many of our school-based PTA units have also developed programs and activities to address specific behavioral issues at their own schools
We will be releasing a Call to Action shortly with details about how the community can assist with our advocacy efforts. In the meantime, you can reach out to your school’s PTA or other parent organization, or to the school directly, to get more involved and see how you can help be a part of the solution. Our public schools are significantly under-resourced, and they need the help of the community to succeed.