Decision intended to address mental health concerns and increases in violence within schools
In a series of hearings on Tuesday, April 19, the Montgomery County Council (MCC) passed three special appropriations to the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget to expand High School Wellness Centers (HSWC) to all public high schools.
HSWCs provide medical care, mental health services, social and recreational services, and youth development programs to students and families. Currently, only five high schools have a wellness center, while a sixth is under construction at Kennedy High School. Blair is in line to receive a HSWC.
The appropriations will allocate $3 million to support additional portables for HSWCs, $2 million to plan and establish HSWCs within schools, and $3 million to implement mental health and youth development services in schools that do not already have a HSWC.
Councilmember Nancy Navarro, an advocate of wellness centers in high schools for many years, proposed the expansion on Jan. 31 of this year partially in response to the shooting at Magruder High School. Navarro stated in her memorandum to members of the MCC that “recent events have again emphasized the need for us…to collaborate with Montgomery County Public Schools, the County executive, and his departments to craft a truly comprehensive set of resources and processes to safeguard the safety, security, and emotional well-being of our students.”
In a Facebook post after the budget increase was passed, Navarro also emphasized the importance and urgency of creating wellness centers to combat the rise of mental health issues. “We are still in crisis and we must act accordingly to address the emotional and mental health of our students,” Navarro said.
Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight expressed a similar point of view. “Expanding wellness centers in MCPS schools is critically important for our students and families, especially at this extraordinary moment when social emotional and mental health needs are greater than ever,” McKnight stated.
Gabe Prevots. Hi, I'm Gabe (he/him), a senior at Montgomery Blair High School and the features editor of SCO. I enjoy biking, video games and correcting minor mistakes in my stories. If you find any, let me know! More »