Mental health needs noted in report on Lake schools

Kelly J. Kaczala

        A new elementary school and the increase in mental health counseling, were recently noted in a report on the Lake Local Schools District.
        Jim Witt, superintendent, gave a report on the status of the district at a recent “State of the Communities” meeting, an annual event sponsored by the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce.
        “A year-and-a-half ago, citizens of Lake Township passed a bond issue to allow us to start construction on a new elementary school,” said Witt. “We will be breaking ground on that this spring. It will be open for business in the fall of 2024. It will house our pre-k through sixth grade. Right now, our high school has grades 8 through 12. Our middle school building has grades five through seven. So it’s going to free up some space that is much needed.”
        Schools today offer much more than an education, he noted.
        “If you haven’t been in a school in years, school buildings have changed. The mental health aspect is very, very real. The need for social workers, counselors - that type of thing - is almost overwhelming at times. We have four guidance counselors and four or five other people who would qualify as a counselor service. I am telling you, they are overworked every day. I know that we’re normal. But it’s a real concern.
        A new phenomenon since the pandemic has been anger outbursts by some younger students, he said.
        “It’s a struggle for the teachers and a struggle for other kids in the class. There are no facilities out there for kids who are having these difficulties. The ones that are available are just overcrowded. That’s a real concern. What we’re finding out, in talking with other schools working through these issues, is the main population of kids who are struggling with these type of behaviors are second graders. They were kindergarten kids during the pandemic. I don’t know what the correlation is, there have not been any studies done. I find that really, really interesting. It’s almost uniform around the area,” he said.
        The district, he said, has been “very, very lucky” with financial stability over the last several years.
        That wasn’t the case 20 years ago, he added.
         “The district was broke.”
         “We hadn’t passed an operating levy in many, many years. But in the last 16 years, of the 10 issues we put in front of our community, eight passed. We’re very, very fortunate. We’re in a stable financial situation,” he said.
        First Solar, which invested $68 million in a new manufacturing facility in the township, “helped our schools immensely,” he said.
        “Our financial staff and our teachers and school board have done a terrific job of managing our money and are still doing what’s right for our kids. When we were having our most difficult financial struggles, I was the athletic director of Sylvania Northview High School. I took this job at Lake in the summer of 2006. People asked me why I left a great job and district at Sylvania Northview. and went to Lake. My comment was, `Have you ever met our kids? We have super kids.’”
        He called it “a joy” to see the students in the district every day.
        “We have 1,500 of them. If you’re ever having a bad day in education, go sit in a kindergarten classroom for about 20 minutes and you’ll be all better.”


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association