ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — Mental health experts say they're concerned about the lack of counselors available to younger students in Rochester, including only one counselor for more than 8,500 elementary students last year.

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Rochester Public Schools mental health services coordinator Denise Moody told The Post-Bulletin that counselors need to work with younger students to help them gain social-emotional skills and identify mental health concerns. Moody says the schools consider counselors to be "first responders" to concerns.

According to Moody, part of the reason for the lack of counselors is due to tight budgets and resulting cuts. With no other funding source, counselors end up competing with teaching positions for general fund dollars.

While it's encouraged to keep a healthy student-to-counselor ratio, Minnesota doesn't have mandates to fund and staff school counseling positions.