-22855 Mulholland Hwy. Calabasas, CA 91302-

Calabasas Courier Online

-22855 Mulholland Hwy. Calabasas, CA 91302-

Calabasas Courier Online

-22855 Mulholland Hwy. Calabasas, CA 91302-

Calabasas Courier Online

Breaking: District to merge wellness and academic counseling

Adam Swarth
Wellness, Academic Counselors reviewing student’s schedules for next year.

When students return to campus for the 2024-2025 school year, they will find that the Wellness Center, as they know it today, no longer exists.

Next year, wellness counselors at both CHS and Agoura High School will merge with their respective academic counterparts. At each school, all counselors will handle both academic counseling and wellness counseling.

This new plan amounts to a reversal of the changes made before the 2021-2022 school year, which established a separation of academic and mental well-being counseling and resulted in the loss of three CHS counselors, who were moved to other schools.

“[Lisa Lucore] and I have been in wellness, and [Emily] Ritchey and [David] Rivas have been in academics, so it’s been separated,” said CHS wellness counselor Alison Tarczynski. “The shift is now that it will be all 4 of us counseling, as in everything… it will be merged together where all four of us can do whatever is needed, if it’s an academic need or a wellness need.”

Although not specified, it is believed that the decision to combine the units was initially discussed during the beginning of the school year and finalized around the time of winter break, which is when the counselors were informed of the change. 

“We were notified that something in the counseling department might change back in October, however our initial thoughts of that were that they would possibly be getting a new counselor, because we knew the academic counselors needed more academic help,” said Tarczynski. “December and January, it was confirmed to us we would be those people moving …the initial change, we didn’t know it had anything to do with us.” 

The “shift,” as it has been referred to among the counselors, is a district response to the overwhelming caseload that academic counselors at LVUSD high schools have been left with since the initial changes were made in 2021. 

According to CHS academic counselors, student enrollment is too high for only two people to adequately address.

“It’s been identified that this portion of the job is a lot to manage for two people. Our enrollment is around 1,700 kids,” said CHS academic counselor David Rivas. “So that’s basically 850 kids [per counselor].” 

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a ratio of 250 students per counselor, calculating a national average of 385 students per counselor throughout American schools during the 2022-2023 school year. 

To ease the caseload of students on counselors, the district’s decision will transition its wellness counselors toward academic counseling. As both counseling units are credentialed to handle academic and mental advisory, their merging will enable each counselor to assume dual roles. 

“We’ve [the counselors] been working under our Pupil Personnel Service credential, and that is the credential that school counselors have,” said wellness counselor Lisa Lucore. 

While all counselors have operated under the same P.P.S credentials and sharing some responsibilities, since their arrival the wellness counselors have focused almost exclusively on student mental health.

“Have they [Rivas and Ritchey] done mental health counseling? Absolutely. Have we [Lucore and I] done some academic [counseling]? Absolutely. it just hasn’t been the focus,” said Tarczynski. 

As all four counselors are to be labeled the same positions –”school counselors” according to Rivas– they are expected to work together in the counseling office, where Rivas and Ritchey currently work. The specifics of the office layout for the counselors, however, are not clear to them.

“We haven’t been told all of the ins and outs… we’ve been told there’ll still be a counseling center, but they want us as a team together,” said Tarczynski. “There’ll be restructuring or something with up in the counseling [building] but… we don’t know.” 

The physical movement of the wellness counselors leaves the fate of the Wellness Center unknown. To many users of its facilities, the consensus is the building provides a safe escape from their current pressures. As wellness counselors will be found in the counseling office, it is anticipated that the Wellness Center will be vacated for the upcoming school year– a matter particularly frustrating for Tarczynski and Lucore. 

“This is a dedicated space just for wellness, where it doesn’t have the academic component,” said Tarczynski. 

“Sometimes the [students] want to get away from academics,” added Lucore. “If we are academic and social, emotional [facility], you don’t get away.” 

An outcome of moving the wellness counselors to new offices is the elimination of a separation between wellness and academic counselors.

“One of the things to know is there is really no longer a distinction between the two as long as our four jobs are considered for next year,” said Rivas. 

To compensate for the anticipated loss of the Wellness Center facility, the counselors are already looking for ways to re-establish a “new” wellness center for students, but the plans for that remain “in flux,” according to Assistant Principal Carina Diana. 

“We want to have a place where kids can reset and that currently exists on our campus in the wellness center,” said Diana. “However, what that looks like up here will remain to be seen.” 

The wellness counselors have also acknowledged that the transition to “school counselor” from working exclusively on student wellness will prove to be difficult as they begin. 

“When [there’s] a student in distress…I’m going to feel compelled to want to drop everything and help that student. And there may be a moment where the student just has to wait,” said Lucore. “It’s just an internal thing where I’m going to have to learn to calm myself and be able to say ‘Okay, I’m going to ask them to be patient and i’ll get to them.’”

Wellness counselors have already begun performing academic duties, joining the academic counselors’ classroom visits to create student schedules for next year. School administrators are currently developing a plan to support wellness in their transition to their new roles. 

“We are really trying to focus on cross training opportunities throughout the rest of the spring semester so that wellness feels good with academic pieces and vice versa,” said Diana.  “We’re going to cross train throughout the spring to support the transition.”

As of now, the district office has not made an announcement of any changes to counseling. A Calabasas Courier review of all available LVUSD Board meeting minutes and agendas found no mention of a change to counseling for the next year. According to Diana, the change is to be officially announced to the public in July. 

“Our plan is to let students know in early July about [the changes]. That’s when the school year transitions, essentially from the end. The 2023-2024 [school year] ends June 30, and then our plan is to communicate right when the “new” school year starts, which is in July, and have information up on websites so [students] know who to contact.” 

The Courier has reached out to the district office for comment. As of time of the publication, they were not available to respond. The Courier will update this article when they do.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Calabasas Courier Online
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Calabasas High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Adam Swarth
Adam Swarth, Campus News Editor
Hi! My name is Adam Swarth and I am ecstatic to be the Campus News Editor! This will be my third year with the Courier and my second on the editorial staff. There's nothing more validating than the process of creating and publishing great articles, and I'm excited to share this pleasure with the rest of the staff. When I'm not writing, you can find me reading, watching movies, or spending time with my favorite people!
Donate to Calabasas Courier Online
Our Goal

Comments (0)

Leave any comments or suggestions
All Calabasas Courier Online Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *