BOE keeping its nurses

Published 3:38 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

Each Decatur County school will have nurses on campus next year.

During a special called meeting of the Decatur County Board of Education Thursday afternoon, Superintendent Ralph Jones announced that the fiscal year 2010 budget will include eight school nurses.

Previously, the school nurses were provided to the school system through a partnership with Memorial Hospital of Bainbridge. Last fall, the hospital announced, because of budget cuts, the cessation of the program.

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Since the announcement that the nurse program with the hospital would end, public sentiment has been clear that the school system should somehow find a way to continue to have on-campus nurses.

A variety of factors led to the inclusion of the eight nurses in next year’s budget.

First, the system’s reorganization of schools and the closure of Lillian E Williams Elementary School reduced the number of full-time positions needed by the system next year. This allowed room in the budget for the nurses. Of the eight nurses, only two will be paid from the general fund.

Second, the system will receive $1.5 million in funding from the federal stimulus program. A portion of that money is targeted to fund four of the positions.

And lastly, two more of the nurses will be paid from reimbursements received from Medicaid. This program, which the system has been participating in for many years, reimburses for services like speech and physical therapy provided to eligible students.

“Some of the principals are very attached to these nurses. If they (the current school nurses) want to work under our terms, we will do our best to see that those nurses go the schools that they are at now,” said Jones.

“We think we are doing what’s right, they will not have to walk away from a job that they’ve had for five years,” continued Jones. “But at the same time, we need those nurses.”

The eight nurses are slated to be paid annual salaries of $30,000 per year and will be fully employed by the Decatur County Board of Education.

There will be one Director of Nursing, which will receive a $5,000 local supplement, for an annual salary of $35,000.

Jones indicated that these salaries are very comparable with other area school systems.