FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- In response to the deadly school shooting in Marshall County in January, a proposed bill in Frankfort is aimed at protecting students by providing more mental health services.

House Bill 604 passed favorably out of the House Budget Committee on Tuesday. It will head to the House floor next for debate.

“House Bill 604 was born out of tragedy,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Will Coursey, (D) KY House District 6.

The bill would require one licensed mental health professional for every 1,500 students in each public school starting next school year.

“This piece of legislation would certainly spare us tragedy in the future,” Coursey told the committee Tuesday.

According to the bill, the mental health professionals would “provide mental health services to students, including identifying and assisting students whose learning, behavior, and relationships have been impacted by trauma.”

Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars spoke to the committee in support of the bill and said it would help children suffering from any kind of trauma not just school shootings.

“A child can be traumatized by most anything,” Byars said. “Whether it be divorce in the home, drug abuse, sex abuse in the home.”

Byars said the bill is a proactive approach to prevent more school violence.

“Will it 100 percent prevent it? No,” he said. “But at least if we have some mental health professionals in the school systems, it would definitely be an advantage to maybe foresee something like that coming on.”

The bill specifies these mental health professionals would be hired in addition to existing school counselors. The bill’s sponsor said grants and state funding could be available to help school districts cover the added costs of hiring more people.

JCPS spokeswoman Allison Martin provided this statement via email:

“We have mental professionals throughout the district, but certainly would support increasing those resources and having additional funding from the state to support the initiative.”

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