By Tom Tolen /

The Brighton Area Schools Board of Education has voted to hire three people to address district needs in the areas of school safety, student mental health and counseling.

Meeting last week in regular session, the board voted unanimously to hire a second police liaison officer for Scranton Middle School. The total cost to the school district will be $84,513, which will include pay, benefits and retirement.

Superintendent Matthew Outlaw says, "This is the cost for the school portion of the individual's assignment...The deputy will work for the sheriff's office in the summer months and possibly school vacations.” The deputy will be paid during the school year by the district, with funds coming from state per-pupil aid, and during the summer months by the sheriff’s office. According to Outlaw, the school district will apply for grants to offset the cost of the position. The person to be assigned to the police liaison post has not yet been named by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office.

The district will also hire a mental health professional for Scranton. Brighton is one of a myriad of districts that are now scrambling to hire mental health professionals. The effort to bolster the number of counselors, social workers, psychologists and nurses in schools is being funded by the $17.1 billion state K-12 budget Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed last summer. It includes a $240 million allocation to hire staff to support students as they struggle with mental and physical health needs that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lastly, the board voted to hire a second counselor at Maltby Intermediate School. Outlaw says Maltby has only one counselor for about 800 students, and needs one more. According to the website, such counselors are professionally certified individuals who help students succeed in school, plan their future careers and help them form healthy goals, mindsets and behaviors. Outlaw says the mental health and counselor positions have been posted and the district hopes to fill them in the near future.

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be a workshop session next Monday, Feb. 28th, at 6 p.m.