Faced with too few counselors, Glendale High School is set to undergo a controversial restructuring plan that proponents say will make more advisers available without increasing costs.
The school board Tuesday gave Principal Jim Gibson approval to begin combining the duties of career counselors and deans, a move that is expected to cut the school’s student-counselor ratio from 850 to 1 to about 450 to 1.
Gibson said the change will help avoid stretching the counselors any thinner as Glendale High becomes a four-year campus this fall, adding about 1,100 new ninth-graders.
“As it is now, our counselors hardly ever see their students,” Gibson said. “We’re going from 2,400 to 3,500 students this year, but if we break the ratio down to 450 to 1, we’ll have a 50% better chance of interacting with the students.”
The school currently has three full-time counselors to assist with academic issues and two full-time deans assigned to disciplinary and administrative duties. One additional counselor and dean will be added this fall to handle incoming ninth-graders.
Under Gibson’s proposal, counselors and deans would be phased out and replaced by new administrators called “counselor-deans” who would perform duties currently split between the two jobs. Gibson said the approach, which he calls “whole student counseling,” has not been tried before.
School board members said they will closely monitor the experiment. Several expressed concern that the new administrators would spend most of their time on supervisorial duties and counseling would become “watered down” under the plan.
“It will be a hodgepodge of services, provided by very talented people in areas they have not chosen as their career path,” said board President Jeanne Bentley, praising the proposal for being “innovative.”
About 40 students, parents, counselors and other Glendale High staffers attended Tuesday’s meeting in support of the plan, which the board approved unanimously.
Gibson said the restructuring, which is part of a 12-step strategic plan to revamp the school’s curriculum by the year 2000, will be implemented gradually over several years.
“We want to move in the direction of having administrators that can handle all the students’ needs,” he said. “I’ll be choosing people with a unique understanding of kids.”