SMMUSD HDQTRS — Despite severe funding cuts at the state level, education officials last week decided it was more important to bring back counselors than to save money.

The school board chose to reinstate three counselors (one at Malibu High School, which previously lost two, one at Lincoln Middle School and one to be split between John Adams Middle School and Olympic High School) and bring back one college counselor at Santa Monica High.

Members of the board felt it was necessary to bring back the counselors because the student-to-counselor ratio was just too high at the school sites to be effective and provide proper guidance to students and their parents, said school board vice president Ralph Mechur, who pushed for the college counselor at Samohi, which would have had only two for an estimated 3,000 students.

“We felt it would be a real disservice to not have these counselors, who provide support to our students,” Mechur said. “I was particularly concerned about Samohi because we didn’t have the personnel in place to help those kids who may be the first in their family to go to college and may not know the process [of applying for schools and financial aid].”

The reinstatement of the counselors is expected to cost roughly $320,000.

The school board cut the counselors in May as part of a $7.1 million reduction in spending, the result of Measure A’s inability to gain the two-thirds support of voters needed for passage. Measure A was an emergency parcel tax of $198 per parcel that would have generated roughly $5.7 million annually for five years. It failed mainly because of a lack of support from Malibu voters.

Malibu High was hit the hardest by the counseling cuts as it was going to have to share two counselors with the middle school. According to district officials, that would have meant a student-to-counselor ratio of 577 to 1.

Brian Kelly, principal at Malibu High, which serves students in grades six through 12, said he was grateful for the additional counselor.

“I think we will definitely be able to better serve our students,” he said. “We will still feel the loss of one of our counselors.”

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