School board wants more than a Band-Aide for nurse shortage

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Sallee seeks funds for new scoreboard

By Shelley Spillman

The need for an additional school nurse was discussed at the Anderson County Board of Education meeting Monday of last week.

Anderson County Schools had five school nurses, supplied by the Anderson County Health Department, but a nurse resigned late last year and the position was never filled.

The school board weighed its options to hire a fifth nurse, hire a part-time nurse or maximize efficiency with the current four nurses.

“We need five nurses,” said school board member James Sargent. “I don’t want to see our nurses overworked.”

The four nurses currently serve all seven Anderson County schools. Nurses and concerned residents sent letters to the board stating a need for five nurses.

Tim Wright, public health director for the Anderson County Health Department, said that to supply Anderson County Schools with four nurses costs $259,000 for the current fiscal year. The school district’s cost is $121,360.

Around $75,000 is typically paid by local public health taxes. The remaining balance of $62,640, Wright explained, is typically a ballpark amount billed to Medicaid for eligible students.

Wright said the school nurse program makes up about 25 percent of the health department’s budget.

“This is a beneficial program for the school, students and parents,” Wright said. “The health department is not required by law to provide school nurses but we are fortunate that the board of education sees this as a team effort to make sure this important service continues.”

Mitchell said a fifth nurse will cost the school district approximately $13,640. Most board members argued that a fifth nurse is a necessity.

Roger McDowell, board vice chair, said that he’d like to hire a fifth nurse but the board has an obligation to taxpayers to be fiscally responsible.

“Unfortunately, we have the same budget constraints as everyone else. We have to live within our means,” said McDowell. “I’m not sure five nurses is the magic number. Even five isn’t enough if we’re not as efficient as we can be.”

McDowell suggested keeping four nurses and finding ways for office personnel to alleviate some tasks for efficiency.

The decision to hire a fifth nurse was tabled until next month’s meeting to give Mitchell time to explore options with Wright and see what the school district can afford.

“We are currently in negotiations to determine two or three options for the board to consider, which include four nurses, four full-time and one part-time nurse or five school health nurses,” said Mitchell.

Wright said the health department has a good working relationship with Anderson County Schools and he is convinced they will be able to strike some sort of agreement for the school nurses decision.

Scoreboard funding

The school board approved Athletic Director Rick Sallee’s ongoing work with Slam Dunk Sport Marketing, based out of Middletown, Ohio, to create a contract for generating funds for a new baseball scoreboard.

The firm solicits sponsorship from corporations to fund necessities needed for school sports.

At this time, it seems, that this will not cost the school board anything. Slam Dunk gets funds from a portion of the sponsorship they collect.

The current scoreboard is around 10 years old and inconsistently functions correctly. Replacement parts have been purchased on more than one occasion to keep it running.

Board members said they’d like routine maintenance to be part of the contract to ensure the scoreboard is in good working condition prior to the start of each season.