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Here are few factoids that got left on the cutting room floor from my story today about counseling:

  • Counseling has fared relatively well in the budget crisis, school officials said. Some schools actually got more counselors than usual because the school district stopped letting schools trade in counselors for other resources. Tracking the exact ratios is difficult because many schools use other funds to beef up their counseling departments, just as Roosevelt does. But here are the basic numbers:

    There are more than 400 students per full-time guidance counselor in San Diego Unified — a higher number than in years past but a relief from last year, when the rate reached nearly 500 students.

  • To put that in perspective, California schools have averaged 776 students per counselor — 40 percent higher than the national average — according to the most recent data from the American School Counselor Association. Their recommended number is 250 kids — a little less than the caseload shouldered by the counselor that we profiled, Rafael Ocampo.
  • The teachers union is trying to get the current staffing system down in writing, so that the next superintendent doesn’t go back and start allowing schools to trade counselors for copy machines or other needs. Union President Camille Zombro said they’re also seeking to set out counselors’ duties in their contract, so they don’t get bogged down in clerical work, playground supervision or the paperwork around testing.
  • There’s one group of kids that Ocampo feels like he doesn’t get enough time to talk to: The kids with straight As. You can understand why after you spend a day with him. There are maybe 10 or 15 kids who need constant, dedicated attention to stay in class and on task — and it’s hard to get to the high achievers when you have to keep tackling one personal crisis after another.

    And keep in mind, Ocampo is one of the lucky counselors with a relatively low caseload. Others elsewhere in San Diego County have twice as many kids.

  • And last but not least: Ocampo is pretty darn popular at Roosevelt Middle. But he did get dissed — once. He offered a high five to a girl who was walking by. She ignored it. “I don’t know you,” she said briskly as she passed. Ocampo rolled with it, saying she was right to not talk to strangers. But Vice Principal Francisco Santos saw it — and he wouldn’t let Ocampo forget it.

    “I never got dissed like that!” Santos laughed. “Especially when I was with a stranger!”

    Oh well. At least she wasn’t talking to strangers.

— EMILY ALPERT

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