In the aftermath of three school-aged children committing suicide in one week, Keller ISD officials said they are providing additional counseling support and prioritizing mental health programming.

The details

KISD Chief Communication Officer Bryce Nieman said additional counseling support has been provided to the campuses directly affected, and other initiatives have been scheduled throughout the district.

“The district’s counseling department is involved in planning a community-wide suicide prevention event along with the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention,” Nieman said. “This Out of the Darkness Campus Walk was originally scheduled for April but was postponed to May 18 due to inclement weather.”

The overview

Nieman said Keller ISD employs 95 counselors, and all of them are qualified to provide mental health support for students. In addition, Nieman said the district partners with a number of local organizations that can help students and families struggling with any number of mental health needs. These groups include:
  • Communities in Schools
  • Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine
  • Local mental health experts to create ease of access for students on an as-needed basis
Besides these groups, Nieman said several campuses have HOPE Squads, which are peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs.

“The district is working on expanding [HOPE Squad] groups to additional schools in 2024-25,” Nieman said.

A closer look

While the district increased its guidance, counseling and evaluation budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, spending on this budgetary item has decreased in the ensuing school years. Nieman said the budget was increased from $12.9 million in fiscal year 2019-20 to $16.2 million by FY 2021-22. District documents state the amended budget for FY 2022-23 was $15.7 million. The amount budgeted for guidance, counseling and evaluation for FY 2023-24 was $14.1 million.

Like many districts in North Texas and around the state, Keller ISD is facing a budgetary shortfall next year. Nieman said KISD’s counseling staff will continue to prioritize student well-being, and the district is working with multiple community agencies to focus on mental health programming for the 2024-25 school year.