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School Counselor, Librarian Mandates to Stand

The state's top school board has dropped plans to do away with requirements for counselors and librarians at public schools.

The Dept. of Education had recommended the change as part of a continuing push to give more flexibility to local administrators. The reversal came as a surprise to the dozens of critics who flocked to the BESE meeting to voice impassioned opposition Tuesday.

BESE recently approved changes to many of the policies for administrators contained in Bulletin 741 that superintendents considered cumbersome.

The bulletin mandates that high schools have at least one part-time librarian and, for every 450 students, at least one counselor.  

But BESE member Walter Lee of Shreveport said he had heard no complaints from superintendents about that.

"If nobody has asked for change for counselors and libraries, why are we upsetting everybody over it?," Lee asked.

The plan to lift the mandates met an outcry from school counselors and librarians worried it would mean they'd lose their jobs to cheaper alternatives.

Instead, BESE opted to revert to the old rules for counselor- and librarian-to-student ratios, though the board added a provision to allow districts to appeal to the state superintendent if they need an exception from the requirements.