GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — District 51’s School Board is still debating whether or not to include a school-based health center, run by Marillac Health, in the new Grand Junction High School building.

This would be the second school-based health center in D-51 with the first being at Central High School and with a second one in question it’s worth exploring just how successful has the SBHC at Central been.

Kay Ramachandran is the CEO of Marillac Health and she told KREX the Central High School SBHC has been very successful.

“Data shows that when you have a school-based health center your graduation rate is higher, your absenteeism drop,” said Ramachandran, “It leads to higher school performance and we know we have a disproportionate number of mental health issues in mesa county and among young people.”

Graduation rates from the Colorado Department of Education show that since its opening in 2020 graduation rates in Central high school have increased. In 2019 Central’s graduation rate was 82% and since 2020 Central’s graduation rate has averaged 85%.

What’s the point?

Data from a special school board meeting shows the SBHC has had 2,070 unique visitors and 4,864 total visits split up between the medical, behavioral, and dental health services the SBHC provides.

Despite these statistics, the school board is still debating the inclusion of an SBHC in the new Grand Junction high school, with one board member mentioning concerns about confidentiality. We’re still in the early stages of the conversation and the school board hasn’t heard the public opinion. Still, Ramachandran has no hang-ups, “I hope the community will come forward and support [a school-based health center] in Grand Junction high school and further on.”