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Struggling Lacoochee Elementary gets its guidance counselor



After two years of searching, Lacoochee Elementary School in rural northeast Pasco County has found a new guidance counselor.

Nancy Montoya, who hadn't been working in any schools, started at Lacoochee this week. She fills the role that the school had advertised and readvertised nearly a dozen times without success.

Superintendent Kurt Browning had made it a priority to find a counselor for the school, which is in the middle of a state-mandated turnaround and, by most accounts, can greatly benefit from the services that such a professional offers.

"I wish I could take credit for it, other than the fact that I ratcheted the issue up," Browning said of the new hire. "But (principal) Latoya (Jordan) beat me to the punch. ... It is a big deal."

Assistant superintendent Amelia Larson said Lacoochee found Montoya through one of its new teachers, who knew her and thought she would be a perfect fit. "She came in and fell in love with the school," Larson said. "Things are going well over there."

Browning said the district will continue to seek ways to bolster its pool of guidance counselors so no other schools struggle as Lacoochee did to find one. Montoya could not be reached for comment.

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