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Philly High School Counselors Say Budget Cuts Have Led To Heavy Caseloads

Tatiana Olmedo, guidance counselor at Central High School in Philadelphia. (credit: Tatiana Olmedo)

Tatiana Olmedo, guidance counselor at Central High School in Philadelphia. (credit: Tatiana Olmedo)

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As college application deadlines approach, high school counselors at Philadelphia public schools say they’re facing a heavy workload because of budget cuts.

At Central High School – long regarded as one of the city’s top academic magnets – there are two counselors for 2,400 students. There were six counselors last year.

Tatiana Olmedo has been a counselor at Central High for 14 years, but she’s never worked harder. She says she often works nights and weekends to help Central’s 577 seniors meet the January deadlines for many college applications.

“If they request a recommendation, we try to meet that,” she says. “And so I’m meeting with students, interviewing them. But there’s never enough time.”

Olmedo says her backlog is so great there’s a two-week wait just to meet with her. And she worries that college-bound students are being shortchanged because the district doesn’t have enough counselors.

“I would say that absolutely our young people are being shortchanged,” she says. “They don’t get the college guidance that they would otherwise have gotten if we were fully staffed.”

The American School Counselor Association recommends 250 students per counselor, but the group Philly School Counselors United says some Philadelphia counselors had caseloads close to 3,000.

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