Mental health concerns take center stage at board meeting


Administration members from each school in the district voiced concerns about the emotional needs of students at the January board meeting.

Mental health issues took center stage at the school board meeting when both the board and other staff members convened on Jan. 14.  Among the other topics discussed were the bond issue and the state of the high school swimming pool.

Mental health and social issues dominate discussion

President of the school board, Tim Croissant, noted the common theme of mental health struggles in each school during the administration reports. Each school’s principal or representative commented on emotional needs and challenges. To address the issue, the teaching staff will participate in a professional development day in March where they will receive trauma and mental health education.

Eaton High School’s athletic director Steve Longwell stood in for Principal Jay Tapia to report that Tapia’s main concern is centered around mental health issues and feels the biggest priority is to train and educate the staff.

Eaton High School’s Student Advisory Committee will be sitting in on the February staff meeting to discuss homework loads and their contribution to stress.

BEES Principal Kenny Gartrell also echoed Longwell, saying that one challenge BEES faces is counseling and mental health needs. Galeton Principal Kathryn Friesen also noted the needs for mental health resources, as the small school has been trying to address students who are dealing with abusive situations at home.

Eaton Middle School Principal Jim Orth said, “The social and emotional needs kids are struggling with are profound.” Orth noted that finding a balance between pushing students to work hard in and out of the classroom while not promoting an overabundance of stress is an issue that needs to be addressed.

New bond approach and a pool committee

After voters rejected the bond issue in November elections, Superintendent Bridgette Muse emphasized the importance of community involvement in this stage of planning. A community steering forum will be held at the district office at 6pm on Jan 16.  

Muse opened up dialogue about the state of the high school swimming pool, asking the board and those in attendance whether a committee should be established to get a jump on pool renovations or a total replacement. Muse said, “Its beyond the conversation about facilities because the need is much more urgent.” The board agreed that a committee should be established to address the pool and whether renovations would be a good long-term investment.