Mental health services in Brick schools spared state budget axe

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Brick High school’s School Based Youth Sevices Program Director David Seegert. PHOTO BY DANIELLA HEMINGHAUS

BRICK TOWNSHIP — Behavioral health services for students in public schools in Brick Township and across New Jersey are no longer in jeopardy after local School Based Youth Services [SBYS] counselors helped lead a successful campaign to reinstate state funding for their program in Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2021 state budget.

David Seegert, the director of School Based programs in the Brick and Lakewood school districts, vocally opposed the governor’s plan to eliminate the decades-old program in the revised state budget proposal released in August. His colleague Nick Spanola, a counselor at Brick Memorial High School, let go due to the then-impending budget cuts, created an online petition in support of SBYS that garnered nearly 40,000 signatures.

“It’s all pretty overwhelming. It’s quite humbling to see that our efforts actually worked. It felt like we were moving mountains,” Mr. Seegert told The Ocean Star after Gov. Murphy signed the finalized $31.7 billion state budget into law on Sept. 29. “The groundswell — the ‘critical mass’, as we call it — of support from the community, the parents, the students really paid off.”

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