Impact of nurse cutbacks hard to gauge now

Published 6:35 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Because of state budget cuts, the Chilton County school system will have six nurses when classes resume in August. That’s half of the 12 nurses that worked for the system in 2010-2011.

School administrators and principals are still working to decide how to staff nurses next year and how that might impact students with medical issues.

Superintendent Dave Hayden said he hopes the system will find enough money to hire back two nurses, bringing the total number back up to at least eight.

“It’s one of the areas affected by cutbacks – it’s going to be an adjustment,” said Hayden. “All schools are re-shifting (nurses), and some will have to share. We’re going to see if we can get a couple more nurses where they are needed most.They may have to work a couple different areas.”

Hayden said parents of children with medical issues like diabetes or seizures have been calling the central office, concerned about whether a nurse would be accessible if needed.

“It just depends on how we arrange the schedule and we’re not sure yet, but if we can get eight nurses total it would be good since there are 11 school campuses,” he said.

Maplesville Principal Maggie Hicks said until a schedule for nurses is finalized she’s not sure how the cuts might affect her school.

“Hopefully, that will be brought up at the next board meeting,” said Hicks. “Of course, we have students with medical needs, but we just don’t know right now.”

Isabella High School’s nurse was also eliminated in the budget cuts.

“I have had several concerned parents call about it, but as of now we have nothing to tell them,” said Isabella Principal Ricky Porter. “We’ve been told at this time six nurses will cover the county, and a schedule will be made at a later date.”

Verbena High School also lost its nurse, and Principal Tommy Headley too said it’s hard to say exactly how the cuts will affect the school until school starts.

The board should know by their next meeting, on Tuesday, July 19, how many nurses the system will have next year. At that point, a schedule for nurses will be made, Hayden said.