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Broward County School Board Members: 'We Need Help' With Mental Health Services For Kids

Balloons for each of the 17 people who died at the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were released at a vigil Thursday.
Caitlin Switalski
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Broward County school board members  say schools and churches need to pay more attention to the mental health needs of children. 

School Board Members Robin Bartleman and Rosalind Osgood held each other and cried underneath the Sawgrass Expressway after  a press conference Thursday in which the Broward Sheriff's Office gave updates on the massacre that killed 17 and injured 14 at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

Bartleman said the demands on guidance counselors and social workers in schools is “astronomical.”

“We’ve taken on social emotional curriculum. We’re embracing everything, everything we can possibly do in this district to help our students to make sure they’re healthy, and mentally healthy, but it’s not enough," she said.  "We need help.”

As a portrait of the accused gunmen , Nikolas Cruz, 19, emerges , family members and classmates describe him as a "troubled" young man who had a penchant for injuring animals and an obsession with firearms.

Later in the day, Osgood appealed to a crowd gathered at Parkridge Church for a prayer vigil. She said faith communities need to get involved.

“Community, it is time for us to prioritize not only the academic achievement but the emotional and spiritual well being of our children,” Osgood said.

Meanwhile, South Florida lawmakers are advocating for a state Senate proposal that would increase funding for school safety and mental health services by $54 million next year. The Legislature is set to finalize the state budget in the next few weeks.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit .

Jessica Bakeman reports on K-12 and higher education for WLRN, south Florida's NPR affiliate. While new to Miami and public radio, Jessica is a seasoned journalist who has covered education policymaking and politics in three state capitals: Jackson, Miss.; Albany, N.Y.; and, most recently, Tallahassee.
Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English,Caitiehopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catchCaitielounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time.
Isabella Cueto