Wanted: Medical Aid Schools, Parents Push for Full-Time Nurses
Maraghy, Mary, The Florida Times Union
Parents in Duval and St. Johns counties, along with school
officials, continue to fight for full-time nurses in schools.
Fortunately, there's a healthy outlook.
Both counties want more full-time nurses in schools. And Clay
County would like to return the money they spend on nurses to
Members of the Duval County Council of PTAs pushed for more
school health funding during a Feb. 9 meeting with U.S. Rep.
Tillie Fowler, R-Florida.
St. Johns County parents and school officials made their pitch
before the St. Johns County Legislative Delegation on Jan. 27.
Lobbying hasn't been as prevalent in Clay County, where each
school already has a full-time trained health-care worker on
Clay spends about $200,000 a year on a contract with the Clay
County Health Department dating back to the 1970s, said Joyce
Alford, Clay's director of student services.
"We'd like to return that money to the classroom," Alford said.
"We're comfortable. But we'd like to see additional funding for
school health. For some kids its the only health care they get,"
said Nick Chapman, Clay County health department administrator.
Increased funding for health looks promising, said Les Beitsch,
director of family health services for the Florida Department of
Several bills supporting increased funding for school health
workers will be considered at the next legislative session in
One bill would provide a nurse in every Florida elementary
school -- 1,517 nurses at a cost of $77 million a year.
In many Florida schools, including those in Duval and St.
Johns, a nurse is on duty about three hours a week. Many schools
Teachers and staff are forced to care for sick kids on top of
Most Duval school clinics are staffed by volunteers, who may or
may not have any medical background.
Nurses visit periodically, maybe once a week, said Chris
Buckley, school education chairwoman for the Duval County
Council of PTAs.
She said there's a groundswell of support for more health
workers in schools.
"Kids can't do their best academically if they have health
needs that are unaddressed," Buckley said.
Nease High School parent volunteer Terry Bleak told legislators
at the Jan. …