Potsdam school board OKs therapist

Potsdam Central School District. Vaughn Golden/Watertown Daily Times

POTSDAM — Potsdam Central School District’s Board of Education voted Tuesday night to approve a plan to bring a licensed therapist to the district once a week to provide services for students and families.

Superintendent Joann M. Chambers, said a similar setup is already in place at other schools and thinks there’s many advantages to bringing the services into the district.

“I think it’s a win-win for our students and great help for our staff,” she told the board Tuesday night.

She explained that teachers and staff would be able to refer students and families to the therapist who would then coordinate a time to meet on campus, thus preventing the students from missing much school and avoiding lengthy trips to visit a professional elsewhere.

According to the memoranda of agreement with Citizen Advocates approved Tuesday, the therapist will primarily be there to provide counseling services, treatment planning and referrals both for individuals working with mental health and substance abuse issues. Group sessions could also be conducted by the therapist too, as needed for anger management and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Currently, Brasher Falls and Massena school districts have a similar arrangement set up with Citizen Advocates. According to its website, Citizen Advocates “provides developmental disability, mental health and substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services throughout Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton and St. Lawrence counties.”

Following the memorandum’s approval, the St. Lawrence County Community Services Board and the state Department of Mental Health need to sign off in order for the contract to go through.

For the first month of the contract, the therapist would be on site for half of a day. That would increase to a full day beginning the second month.

From the outset, services would only be available to elementary and middle school students, since the contract only permits for one therapist per building, but Ms. Chambers said if there’s success, the district may consider extending to the high school as well.

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