August 27, 2018

Last week the Eagle County Board of Commissioners allocated $400,000 from the county’s Mental Health Fund to go towards school-based counselors in the Eagle and Roaring Fork valleys. The Roaring Fork Schools will receive $80,000 to sustain a mental health position at Basalt High School (BHS) for the 2018-19 school year.

"We truly appreciate the partnership with Eagle County Public Health and the support of the County Commissioners. They have been intensively involved in our corner of Eagle County and engaged in a range of issues, including the recent wildfire, early childhood education, and mental health services,” said Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein. “The funding for a full-time mental health counselor will go a long way toward keeping our kids healthy, safe, and successful in school."

Last spring, counselors at Basalt High School identified 84 of 481 students who needed therapy but were not receiving it due to financial, logistical and/or transportation challenges. BHS hired Craig Farnum as a mental health provider due to this tremendous need for mental health support at the school. Farnum provides direct counseling services to students, coordinates the mental health services students receive from community organizations, and provides ongoing educational support to staff. The initial funding for the position was shared by the Roaring Fork Schools and the Hope Center in anticipation that other financial resources would become available.

Eagle County’s Mental Health Fund is supported by voter-approved sales and excise taxes on recreational marijuana in Eagle County. After the 1A marijuana tax passed in Eagle County last November, the Roaring Fork Schools quickly put together a proposal to try and ensure funding for this vital position for BHS.

“We are so grateful that we were awarded $80,000 to sustain the mental health position at Basalt High School for this school year,” said Sarah Fedishen, the district’s Family Services Director. “We have a mental health professional at Roaring Fork and Glenwood Springs high schools so we already know how effective this model is, and we feel confident we will have the same positive outcomes in Basalt.”


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