State, County Budget Cuts Cause School Districts To Eliminate Nurse Positions, KQED Reports
State and county budget cuts have caused many school districts to lay off nurses, leaving about 2,700 school nurses to treat more than six million students statewide, KQED's "California Report" reports. According to KQED, full-time school nurses "have become a thing of the past" for two-thirds of state school districts, some of which share one nurse among 30,000 students. School nurses are responsible for ensuring that students have vaccinations and a medical exam before registering for classes and monitoring students with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, asthma and epilepsy. However, some responsibilities of school nurses are increasingly falling to school secretaries and clerks without medical background, KQED reports. California School Nurses Association Executive Director and legislative advocate Nancy Spradling said that districts become "more vulnerable to serious medical mishaps" as they eliminate more nurse positions. However, having no nurse at all is a "risk some school districts are willing to take" given that school nurses' and teachers' salaries are approximately equal, KQED reports. Lafayette School District Superintendent Jon Frank said that state funding must be prioritized for use on classroom health instruction rather than nursing services. KQED reports that the California Parent Teacher Association recently passed a resolution calling for one school nurse for every 750 students. In addition, CSNA is backing legislation that would require public schools to disclose whether they have a school nurse, how many hours the nurse is available and how many students the nurse treats (Kennedy, "California Report," KQED, 9/2). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.