STRASBURG – State Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, and Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Mount Jackson, visited some Shenandoah County Public Schools Tuesday during Take Your Legislator to School Day.
The lawmakers walked the hallways with Shenandoah County Public School Board members and members of the county Board of Supervisors.
“I grew up in these schools,” Gilbert said.
He began the day with school officials at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Strasburg.
Obenshain joined the group at Strasburg High School after visiting Smithland Elementary School in Harrisonburg.
“All the schools I represent face different challenges,” Obenshain said. “Therefore it is important to be in the schools, see what we can do to help. I want to know the challenges facing the schools in my district.”
Obenshain said one of the biggest challenges facing schools that he hears about all over the state is mental health issues, behavioral issues and the need to help students with more counselors and other forms of support.
Gilbert also said students need more access to mental health care.
“And current counselors now have to do other responsibilities. We have to try to take that away so they can focus on counseling,” Gilbert said.
The group visited several classrooms including women in world history and Spanish classes, and an agriculture class where they met two little pigs.
Superintendent Mark Johnston made several requests of Gilbert and Obenshain:
• That there be funding attached to all mandated school programs and services. “Please no more unfunded mandates,” Johnston said.
• To increase funding for at-risk programs to more closely align with the national average.
• To improve resources that support English learners, particularly for those students who enter school with little or no formal education in English.
That the state provide funds to support school capital improvements, which it used to do before the recession.