NewsLocal NewsSan Diego News


Therapy dog program for students at risk as CUSD faces $2.3M deficit

Posted at 5:13 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 20:13:51-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — Coronado Unified School District has announced upcoming layoffs to address a $2.3 million budget deficit. Among the cuts, could include a therapy dog program at Coronado Middle School.

ABC 10News spoke with one family fighting to keep it.

“Having Miso around the campus and having him hangout…is just really good for the students,” said 13-year-old Bryson Sebring.

Bryson has been a participant in the school’s therapy dog program for two years.

“I’ve made a ton of cool friends through the dog group,” he said.

Bryson’s parents say the transformation they’ve seen in their son, who is on the autism spectrum and suffers from ADHD and anxiety, has been remarkable.

“He’s a whole different kid now,” said Bryson’s father, Bryan Sebring. “If you did this interview two years ago…it’s an amazing transformation you’d see.”

The program is spearheaded by licensed clinical counselor Rebecca Rabe, who agreed.

“Over the course of the year…I saw him just blossom,” said Rebecca.

Rebecca was recently notified by the district that her job may be cut, along with along with a few other counselors, program specialists, a Spanish teacher and maintenance worker, as the district says they’ve run out of funding that was provided during COVID.

“I’m seriously worried that if the district cuts these programs, they’re only going to learn about it when something horrible happens,” said Bryson’s mother, Regina Sebring.

Bryson’s parents spoke at a recent board meeting citing data from a CDC studywhich found nearly 30% of students in the U.S. struggle with poor mental health and in 2021, one in 10 students attempted suicide.

Rebecca ays there are nearly 50 students in her program, but Miso the therapy dog opens the door for conversations with students about mental health — all over campus.

“There are almost 600 opportunities for me everyday to make a difference,” said Rebecca.

Parents — hoping the district reconsiders.

“Counseling services…saves kids lives.”

Per the district, layoff notices were issued by March 15th — a deadline mandated by the state. However, final notices will be given in may after Governor Newsom's budget revision is released.