Local foundations partner to provide funding for elementary-school mental health counselor

April 22, 2019 | by Erin Sirianni

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The Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Foundation and the Mercer Island Schools Foundation recently released the following statement announcing the organizations’ partnership to provide funding for the Mercer Island School District’s elementary school mental health counselor, which was set to be cut for the 2019-2020 school year due to budget constraints.

We’ve shared the statement below:

The Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Foundation and the Mercer Island Schools Foundation are grateful for our community’s commitment to the social emotional wellness of our children.

Our two Foundations have agreed to partner in raising short term funding targeted to reinstate the single elementary school mental health counselor slated for cuts in the 2019 city budget through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.  We do so with the hope and expectation that the City will work productively with a group of Mercer Island citizens that are studying potential solutions for long-term sustainable funding in 2020 and beyond.

We commit this emergency stop gap funding to provide services for which our residents have voiced loud support.  We expect that once a long-term funding structure for school based counselors is in place, each of the MIYFS Foundation and the Mercer Island Schools Foundation can refocus all efforts on supporting their core missions, respectively, of supporting the gamut of social services offered by the MIYFS Department and the educational services provided by the school district.


Following the November 2018 failure of the Proposition 1 levy measure, the City made a number of reductions in non-essential programs and services in order to balance the 2019-2020 Biennial Budget. Many of these initial cuts were borne by two departments: Mercer Island Youth and Family Services and the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation department. Some cuts were temporarily softened with donations or one-time fund transfers.

Parks and Recreation ended its entire lifeguard program, shrank senior health services, and in addition canceled special events such as Movies in the Park, Spring Egg Hunt, and the Holiday Tree Lighting/Firehouse Munch.  Out of necessity due to staff attrition, these cuts were implemented starting January 1, 2019, and also include reduced hours and full Sunday closures at the Community Center.