Fresno Unified aiming to add social-emotional support for students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified wants to add social-emotional support for students. Wednesday, district leaders discussed how additional investments will impact more than 74,000 students within the district.

Students have faced many challenges over the last two years, and school officials say the pandemic has added to feelings of isolation and stress.

District leaders say are responding to the needs of the community. They propose increasing the budget for social-emotional resources by taking their budget from $5 million to more than $35 million over a span of five years.

During the Wednesday news conference in the Fresno Unified Board Room, Trustee Valerie Davis said, "It's gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to hear some of the statistics that our children have been living through and the grief and trauma that they've lived through this last couple of years with the pandemic."

Superintendent Bob Nelson said, "We value the kids in the city of Fresno to the degree that we're willing to put $35 million into their social-emotional and mental well-being full stop."

That money will fund an additional 10 clinical social workers for foster and homeless youth. In addition, the funds will add staff to support kids with the most intensive behavior needs in preschool through fourth grade and increase intervention staff at all elementary and middle schools.

Kali Isom Moore is the instructional superintendent for the Edison region. She said they've seen an increase in fights now that students are back on campus, so the resources will help significantly.

"For our middle schools to be able to have that additional counselor is just going to make all the difference," Isom-Moore said. "Especially because it's the transition between the 6th grade and the 7th."

Ahead of the board meeting on Wednesday, the proposal has the support of at least two trustees - Veva Islas and Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas.

"These investments are what care looks like, these investments are what love looks like, these investments are what prevention looks like," Islas said. "I am very proud to stand in space where we are making this happen for our children."

Jonasson Rosas said, "I, as a trustee, am more than happy to support these investments because we know that a kid can't learn if they're not feeling ok at various levels."

The board meeting is happening Wednesday night at 5:45 pm. School officials will present these recommendations for approval by the Board. Click here for the Board Meeting Agenda.
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