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Gov. Whitmer says priorities for school year focus on mental health, staff retention

Whitmer met with Novi High School as part of a "Back-to-School" tour
Gretchen Whitmer at Novi High School
Posted at 4:21 PM, Aug 24, 2022

NOVI, Mich. (WXYZ) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was at Novi High School Wednesday talking to students, teachers and parents as part of her "Back-to-School” tour.

Those involved had the chance explain what they think the governor should focus on this year, especially in light of recent past events.

Lori Leneschmidt is a member of the parent-teacher association and has three students in the Novi Community School District.

“It means that she’s got something to learn here, right? She’s coming here because maybe there’s something we can help her see as she makes her new policy,” Leneschmidt said.

Leneschmidt said parents like her are focused on a number of issues following the pandemic.

“We just want to see a continued focus on mental health in the schools and teacher retention. How are we going to keep the best teachers that make the lifeblood of our district keep from retiring and attracting new talent,” Leneschmidt said.

Senior Krisa Ramani reacted to the upcoming start to the school year.

“I’m super excited for it. I really am. I’m excited to see our friends without our masks on,” Ramani said.

She had the chance to talk to Whitmer directly and she reacted to the governor’s focus on mental health in schools.

“I’ve definitely seen an increase in priority of mental health. There’s definitely been an increase in the priority of school safety,” Ramani explained.

She said there are a number of increased pressures on students coming out of the pandemic and following the Oxford High School Shooting last year.

“It doesn’t come to the forefront, you don’t think of it until it happens in your community,” Ramani admitted.

She explained how often she thinks about her own safety.

“I wouldn’t say I’m constantly thinking of it, but it’s definitely just a background stressor. And it’s just the knowledge of what could happen,” Ramani said.

Whitmer reacted to the day’s conversation the students like Ramani and teachers and parents.

“I was really grateful that so many people with different vantage points joined us today to talk about the mental health of our children, the needs of our educational work force, public safety when it comes to keeping our kids safe in schools,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer said this year, she’s particularly focused on in-person learning, on-campus mental health and staff recruitment and retention. She responded to questions about how this could be accomplished.

“You can see those student teacher bonuses and per diems that we built into this budget are exactly aimed at doing just that,” Whitmer said.