Task Force Eyeing More Mental Health Services To Keep Schools Safe

Mar 13, 2018

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and school leaders across the state want to bolster the number of mental health professionals as part of a plan to improve student safety.

Sandoval says he plans to create a task force aimed at drafting recommendations to improve school safety around the state.

He made the announcement Monday after a two-hour meeting with leaders from 15 of the state’s 17 public school districts as well as representatives from Nevada’s Charter School Authority.

While the governor refused to give an exact timeline as to when he expects to see recommendations, he did say that he plans to sign the executive order officially creating the group later this week.

“My plan, having the benefit of listening to the wisdom of all of the superintendents, is to sign an executive order that creates a school safety committee that is comprised of superintendents, parents, students, teachers, behavioral health specialists,” Sandoval said. “For them to meet and have these conversations being able to inform me as I build the next budget and being able to inform the next session of the legislature.”

Both the governor and school leaders say many of the potential reforms will focus on creating more access to social workers and mental health professionals for students.

But that access can be expensive with some of the state’s smaller districts lacking the resources to hire those professionals.

“Currently, the funding is inadequate, and I think that’s the one thing the superintendents shared very openly with the governor,” said Humboldt County School Superintendent David Jensen.

He goes on to say that even though the state provides some funding for services, smaller districts still can’t afford them, and the state will likely have to provide additional funds in order to meet recommendations.

“Some of the smaller districts lack the capacity to accept the allocations that they receive because it’s funded at about 50 percent. The governor heard that very clearly that additional resources to allow that implementation would be essential.“

There may be an additional snag in creating potential safety reforms. Governor Sandoval’s term ends this year, and lawmakers and the next governor are ultimately responsible for implementing the changes.