Schools may get to keep their nurses

Published 4:19 pm Friday, November 21, 2008

Decatur County school officials said they will make every effort possible to keep school nurses in place for the next academic year.

At the Board of Education meeting Thursday night, School Superintendent Ralph Jones and Board Chairman Sydney Cochran said it was their goal to keep the school nurses, despite a previously announced cessation of a partnership with Memorial Hospital of Bainbridge, which currently employs the nurses and an athletic trainer.

While the financial and contractual details were not yet finalized, Jones said numerous citizens had made it clear to him that the nurses should stay on, although it could increase the school system’s budget by more than $300,000. He said all current nurses will be given the opportunity to keep their jobs, although the school system may offer reduced benefits compared to the hospital.

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Jones said he believed it was important the nurses have a manager and said he had asked Memorial CEO Jim Peak to consider keeping one on the hospital’s payroll.

Jones said the manager is needed to assist with immunizations record keeping, CPR training and usage of defibrillators, automatic heart-restarting devices that have been recently installed at all county schools.

Jones said keeping the nurses is still dependent on the school system continuing to receive Medicaid reimbursements from the state of Georgia for services the nurses perform.

New high school still on schedule

The new Bainbridge High School is still on schedule and school officials are busy finding ways to keep contingency costs low, Superintendent Jones said.

Bob Folkman, the project manager for Allstate Construction/JCI, the joint companies building the high school, said the new high school is still on track to be completed by Aug. 17, 2009.

Eighty-six percent of the project work had been completed through Oct. 31. However, Folkman said the companies’ only concern is the timely completion of the permanent water and sanitary sewer systems, which were originally scheduled to have been completed in October. The water system is still under construction but will be done by the end of the year; however, the City of Bainbridge is still receiving construction bids for the sewer system, which is now expected to be completed by next spring, Folkman said.

Despite the delays, Folkman said it was still possible that a few of the high school’s buildings will be completed by the end of 2008 and that a majority of the buildings will be finished by the second quarter of 2009.

At the school board’s Thursday dinner meeting, Jones said officials are busy looking at ways to keep contingency costs, which were not part of the original project, at the lowest level possible. He said landscaping around the new high school could be covered by the BHS Horticulture students, as well as a program seeking community sponsorship of planted trees and the support of the local Georgia Forestry Commission office.

Jones said he and his staff were also looking at ways to utilize existing assets, such as good-quality lunchroom tables and furniture, for furnishing of the new high school.