News Roundup: With Funding Tight, Lawmakers Grapple With How To Increase Access To School Counselors

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Alexandra HartJune 28, 2018 7:01 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

In the wake of recent school shootings, lawmakers are grappling with how to make schools safer.

One of Gov. Greg Abbott’s recommendations was increasing the number of school counselors in school districts.

Texas Public Radio’s Ryan Poppe reports that House lawmakers unpacked that suggestion in a hearing yesterday at the state capitol:

Mike Morath, the state’s education commissioner, told members of the Texas House Committee on Public Education that his agency is not set up to mandate that all districts have the recommended ratio of one school counselor to 250 students. That ratio might make it easier for counselors to interact with any troubled teens that may contemplate violent actions. 

“If school districts wanted to achieve a 250-to-1 counseling ratio, they can achieve it, but that comes at the sacrifice of other things like, for example, the number of teachers they have in high schools,”  Morath said.

And that was a concern for committee members who represent rural school districts with limited financial resources. 

State Rep. Ken King is a Republican representing the Panhandle area of the state.
“We need counselors, not metal detectors and guns that are forced upon us at the state level, but what I worry about is we are going to adapt a one size fits all policy and not pay for it at the end of the day,” King said.
During their discussions, House education leaders also pointed to the challenge of funding mental health and safety protocols in school districts as another reason why more state resources are needed for public education.

The City of El Paso is asking an appeals court in Fort Worth to dismiss a lawsuit over a multipurpose arena to be built in the city.

Last July, El Paso resident Max Grossman filed the suit, saying that the city’s plans to build the arena violated the Antiquities Code of Texas. He alleged that El Paso didn’t notify the state of plans to demolish historic structures in a nearby neighborhood to build the arena.

But court documents filed by the city say they did submit notice of their plans to build the $180 million arena, back in May. Grossman told the El Paso Times that they are still in litigation and there is “no expectation of any change in status quo at this time.”

San Antonio has installed a set of Pride-themed rainbow crosswalks in the heart of its LGBT business district. The City of Houston, installed a similar crosswalk last year.

San Antonio’s District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño says it’s more than a symbol – it’s a gesture.

“…That says this is an inclusive compassionate community, and it’s going to allow for this to open up more conversations about how we can create policies – more policies – to help protect people and their rights,” Treviño said.

The project’s cost was about $32,000, with nearly $20,000 raised by private donations. The installation is being completed in time for the city’s Pride parade this Saturday, which will run on the same street as the crosswalk.