Ranson IB Middle School students, staff fight for more social workers

Ranson IB Middle School students, staff fight for more social workers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Several students and teachers from Ranson IB Middle School attended Tuesday night's Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) Board meeting to demand two more social workers be placed at the school. The school only has one social worker for about 900 students.

The concern is next school year about 300 students are expected to be added to the school. The students will come from challenged backgrounds and need mental and emotional support.

"We have a lot of kids who deal with domestic violence, trauma, tons of homelessness in the building," Ranson IB Middle School social worker Jon Rochester said.

Carmen McGinnis is a first year teacher at Ranson. She believes if there were more social workers to offer support to students, her job would be easier.

"Behavior, it's a constant fight with having to manage behavior instead of focusing on getting them to think and focus on what's about to happen next academically," McGinnis said.

The school believes academic achievement is associated with having enough social workers to deal with the student population. If help doesn't come next year, Rochester will be responsible for dealing with the needs of about 1200 students.

"If your mind is on other things or if you are hungry - you are dealing with issues at home and nobody is helping you through it - it impedes your education 100 percent," McGinnis said.

Students say they can tell the difference

"He talks to me all the time. He puts me in different groups that help me cope with my anger, stress - anything I am going through at home. He helps a lot," Ranson IB Middle School Student Jasmine Houston said.

CMS is requesting millions more next school year to hire extra counselors, social workers and psychologists. The number of workers will depend on what the school district gets from state and county lawmakers.

"Could I put two at Ranson, I don't know. My sense is probably not two,"  CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox said.

The superintendent says he hopes state leaders will offer flexibility with funding they plan to give to schools next year. Wilcox says if that happens, he may be able to offer more social workers to schools. If it doesn't, Rochester will try to reach as many students as he can.

"I can only imagine it's going to be a little more intense, but I am here to serve," Rochester said.

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