Utah’s House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would increase the number of elementary school counselors in the state.
The sponsor of HB223, Republican Representative Steve Eliason, said he’s never been lobbied more for a bill that’s he’s crafted.
“I was receiving emails from teachers and school counselors saying I strongly encourage you to support this bill," Eliason said. "And then I’d inform them, I’m the sponsor. I have to vote for the bill.”
Eliason said the strong support for the bill is in response to a need for more elementary school counselors. And that better emotional and social support for younger students can prevent more complicated issues down the road.
This bill would use $1 million of the state’s education funds to give matching grants to schools willing to hire counselors.
Democratic Representative Marie Poulson spoke in favor of the bill. She referenced a recent experience she had while visiting elementary schools in her district.
“The children are served all three meals [at school]. And there are washers and dryers in the office where they get their clothes cleaned," Poulson said.
Poulson said it reminded her of the need for more comprehensive support at schools.
The bill passed 71 votes to 2. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.