MICHIGAN (WJRT) (2/28/2018) - In Michigan, there's an extreme shortage of school counselors.
The American School Counselor Association said the state has a ratio of 729 students to one counselor. That's the third worst ratio in the country.
The Association recommends a ratio of 250-to-1.
"I would hope that we can change the conversation away from guns in schools, no matter who has them, to how do we help support our students' emotional well-being," said Rich Machesky, Troy schools superintendent, told WXYZ. "I think the counselors are on the front line. I would like to see more of them available."
Machesky said the state needs to be more proactive in preventing a tragedy.
At Troy High School, the ratio is about 400 students to one counselor.
The school said counselors aren't just available for academic, career and college counseling. They also meet with students to talk about struggles like mental illness, stress and bullying.
Counselor Jesse Allgeier told WXYZ that students are in crisis every day. She said a higher number of counselors would provide intervention early on and potentially stop a tragedy.
Machesky said it's going to take lawmakers providing more funding to make that possible.
State Rep. Vanessa Guerra, a Democrat from Saginaw, said the State Legislature is working on it.
"We know we don't have as many social workers and school psychologists as we would like in our schools, and that's a conversation we need to have in this budget process," she said.
In the meantime, Guerra said teachers should be equipped to look for signs of trauma or other mental illnesses in students as a first line of defense.
The House Mental Health Task Force introduced a bill offering mental health first aid to teachers as an option for professional development. It passed in the House and remains under consideration in the Senate.