KINGSPORT — A renewal and expansion of an agreement providing elementary school mental health counselors for $90,000 a year and approval of reroofing Robinson Middle School for about $950,000 garnered the approval of the Kingsport Board of Education Tuesday, both by 5-0 votes.
The extension of the Camelot Care Centers Inc. memorandum of understanding will make five counselors from Camelot available at all eight elementary schools and the Cora Cox Academy, an alternative school. Previously, a one-year MOU with Camelot provided three counselors to serve Cora Cox and four elementary schools.
The counselors will be housed at the schools and can see students there, which Superintendent Jeff Moorhouse and Chief Student Services Officer said Jim Nash will help minimize students’ time out of the classroom and maximize the time with the counselors. The agreement started last year and some students continued to see counselors at local schools over the summer, Nash explained.
“We’re just starting to see mental health issues manifest themselves at elementary schools,” Moorhouse said. In addition to the $90,000 in payments from the school system, Camelot will bill insurance as available for services rendered.
When the students move to middle school, Nash said, the school system will help transition them to Frontier Health counselors that work in middle and high schools. Moorhouse said the funding is coming from “safety dollars provided to us” by the state. The Frontier Health work will continue, with help from United Way, and Moorhouse said possible future help from Ballad Health also can be used.
“Any resources they provided for this issue, we can put to work,” Moorhouse said.