• 72°

Danville Schools could add wellness counselor next year

The Danville Board of Education could vote Monday to add a school wellness counselor to the district’s budget for 2019-20.

The counselor would be another new health care option added next school year, along with an already approved in-school clinic program from Danville Pediatrics and Ephraim McDowell Health, and a planned in-school dental exam room that would be staffed by area dentists.

Superintendent Tammy McDonald told board members this week that the district will be getting one new licensed clinical social worker as part of its school clinic arrangement. The new school wellness counselor position would also be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), who would focus on the district’s new combined alternative school, which will operate out of the newly acquired central office building next to Danville High School.

“We believe both of these individuals … will have full case loads and we’ll still have students on a waiting list,” McDonald said.

The school wellness counselor would help students “who may have anxiety” and are “not functioning in the traditional setting.” The position would also help students transition back to the traditional high-school setting from the alternative school. That need for transitional services is something that goes overlooked in other school districts, McDonald said.

McDonald and board Chair Steve Becker said they are confident a change in the law will happen this year as well, which will expand the school district’s ability to bill Medicaid for the services provided by LCSWs.

If that change does occur, “I’m going to estimate 60-75 percent of that salary, we’ll be able to receive back through Medicaid billing,” McDonald said.

The new position could cost around $66,000 annually before any offset from Medicaid, if the LCSW who is hired has around 10 years of experience, she said.

“That’s not a lot of cost to our general fund, but a lot of return in the wellness of our students,” McDonald said.

The new position will be considered for approval at the board’s regular June meeting, 6 p.m. Monday at Danville High School. The board could also approve a minor change to the position of director for the Admiral Academy at Toliver Intermediate School, as well as 4-percent bumps in the pay index for three administrative positions — director of special education, director of pupil personnel and assistant superintendent.

McDonald said she recommends the pay increases for the three administrators because they are all taking on additional job duties above and beyond their regular roles.