Governor Reynolds’ and her Republican cohort’s proposed changes to area education agencies and behavioral health services would further increase the burden that our schools already face concerning mental health services. These changes risk dismantling critical support systems that our communities depend on, such as crisis response teams that prove invaluable in times of tragedy, such as that faced at Perry High School earlier this year.

In the aftermath of the recent tragedy at Perry High School, Iowa Democrats are addressing the urgent mental health crisis gripping rural communities across the state. South Central Calhoun School District Superintendent Brad Anderson’s findings have brought to light alarming statistics, indicating an average ratio of 345 students for every one psychologist or school counselor in rural Iowa, which is well over the national average of one school counselor or psychologist per 295 students. 

Mental health services are already costing school districts in Iowa thousands of dollars every year. As just one example, South Central Calhoun School District has a contract with Seasons Center for social workers and therapists to provide in-school services for students, who would otherwise have to travel 60 miles or more to receive services. This contract costs the district between $45,000 and $60,000 a year, and there are still 35 to 40 students on a waiting list to receive care. 

“These numbers expose a deeply rooted issue — a dire lack of mental health support and resources for our children in need. It’s not just a statistic; it’s a call for immediate action,” said IDP Chair Rita Hart.

Iowa Democrats are encouraging citizens to delve into the numbers within their own communities and raise awareness about the urgent need for accessible mental health care. Superintendent Anderson’s findings are not unique to one school district — they are indicative of a broader problem that demands a statewide response.

“Governor Reynolds’ proposed changes risk exacerbating the crisis at hand — not solving it, as she’d like you to believe. Consolidating services, as she has repeatedly advocated for, would lead to a reduction in the vital resources that our children desperately need,” said IDP Chair Rita Hart.

Iowa Democrats remain committed to advocating for the well-being of our youth and call upon Governor Reynolds to reassess her proposals and put people over politics by prioritizing the needs of Iowa’s rural communities.