Discussion at last night’s Lacey Township Municipal Alliance meeting centered on issues now arising from the lack of a trained Student Assistance Counselor in the elementary schools.
Members of the Municipal Alliance have said that a Student Assistance Counselor (SAC) for the elementary level is vital in identifying at-risk students at an early age when counseling can be most effective. Since a full-time SAC intern left at the end of June, the Township Board of Education has not hired anyone to replace her.
The Lacey Township High School Association Against Drugs and Alcohol (AADA) held its opening meeting for their Big Brother/Big Sister program on Monday afternoon and, while there were 40 high school students ready to begin mentoring younger students, there was very low turnout from the elementary schools, according to Margaret Rand, AADA Advisor.
“When high school students are addicted, it’s a much larger problem,” said Rand. “Prevention is the better strategy to address drug addiction.”
Student Assistance Counselors (SAC) provide children who have parents with substance abuse problems and those involved in bullying or any other risky behavior with confidential counseling.
“We were promised by the School Board that someone with proper SAC training would be hired at substitute teacher pay to help coordinate some of the activities in Mill Pond School one day a week,” said Heather Scanlon, Municipal Alliance Coordinator. However, she said, school officials have not yet found a room where counseling could take place.
Mill Pond School houses all the township's fifth and sixth grade students.
Some of the Alliance members questioned why Lacey Township has never had a D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. Scanlon explained that the program is run by the police department and is sometimes funded by municipal alliances, but budget cuts have meant the end of many of these programs.
“You have to set priorities and do whatever you can do in these economic times,“ said Township Committeeman David Most. He suggested D.A.R.E. could be started as a pilot program for a year to see how it works.
Scanlon said she plans to meet with the school district’s special education supervisor to discuss these issues.