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Nearly half of PA public school students have a “mental health need”


The 2024 State of Education report from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association found two-thirds of the state’s 500 school districts reported mental health needs as a challenge facing their schools.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

In its eighth such report, the PSBA’s survey of school district leaders and education data showed mental health concerns a priority for 66% of districts. On average, the PSBA said, nearly half of students — 46.4% — were estimated to have “some mental health need,” according to school district leaders.

The director of pupil services at Central Bucks School District, Alyssa Wright, said the fourth largest district in the state shares the concerns highlighted in the PSBA report.

“Our district is actively addressing this issue by prioritizing resources and initiatives aimed at supporting the well-being of our students,” said Wright, in an email. “We recognize the importance of providing a supportive environment where students can thrive academically and emotionally.”

Another source of distress, according to the study’s findings is mandatory charter school tuition payments. The payments, which districts are required to pay a charter school when a student leaves a district school to attend a charter school, were reported as “the top source of budget pressure” for the fifth consecutive year, the PSBA said in a release.

A shortage of substitute teachers was reported by nearly 90% of the state’s school districts, said the PSBA. A lack of instructional aides, special education staff and bus drivers was also reported by a “significant percentage” of districts.

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