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County school board to consider mobile health clinic, reviews district ACT scores

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Thursday, July 6, 2017, 1 p.m. — The Nelson County Board of Education listened to a proposal Thursday that will allow the school district to offer students and employees health clinic services like sports physicals, routine immunizations, and minor medical care during school hours.

Brittany Rigney a regional director with Communicare, answers questions about the proposed contract for Communicare to provide in-school health clinic services.

The proposal by Communicare would provide a nurse practitioner who would be mobile and alternate between the district’s two largest schools, Foster Heights Elementary and Nelson County High School.

As board member Damon Jackey pointed out, the proposal is similar in nature to the services provided by the health clinic the Bardstown City Schools opened last October.

By providing a higher level of care in school, students who feel sick or have a minor injury may be examined and treated without leaving school for the day to seek treatment. The school nurse would be the person who would determine first if the student needed to be seen by the nurse practitioner.

Brittany Rigney, Communicare’s regional director, explained that the company would handle the billing and insurance and also manage the necessary medical records.

There would be no cost to the district to provide the services, Bob Morris, the director of student support services explained. Having the services available in-house would mean lower cost physicals for bus drivers and the ability to schedule sports physicals done during school hours.

“It’s a win-win situation for the district,” he said.

The service will start out with a single nurse practitioner who will travel to other buildings when the services are needed there, Rigney said. As the program grows, additional health care providers could be added.

Children under age 16 would need a parents’ consent to been seen by the health care provider. The program will require a parent to accompany the child at the time of the first visit or before in order to get a complete medical history on the child prior to treatment, Rigney said.

The contract for the services by Communicare will be back before the board at its Tuesday, July 18 board meeting.

DISTRICT ACT SCORES. The district’s 2016-2017 composite ACT score is again higher this year than the state average — for the fourth year in a row.

That was the good news presented by Kim Brown, the director of secondary schools

The ACT exams were administered in March.

Out of the last six years, the district’s overall score only dipped below the state average once, and that was only by one-tenth of a point.

The district’s composite score — 20.1 — was the same as last year’s score. In the test’s four content areas — English, Math, Reading and Science — the district scores dropped slightly from last year in two areas — English and Science. However, both of those scores were still above the state average in each category. The district scores showed gains from last year in Math and Reading.

Board member Diane Berry makes a point during discussions about a proposal to provide the district’s two middle schools with a half-time staffing position. The board approved the change.

The ACT test scores revealed some opportunities for improvement regarding instruction in core content areas, and changes are already being made to address those issues, Brown said.

“I’m very pleased with the scores, Brown said. “Our teachers and our students are working hard across the board.”

MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER ALLOCATIONS. The board discussed at length a proposal that would increase how the district calculates extra teaching positions for its two middle schools — OKH and Bloomfield.

The extra teaching positions are those that go beyond the initial teacher-student ration calculations. What the change will mean is that both middle schools would receive funding for an additional half-time position, according to Tim Hockensmith, the district’s chief operating officer.

How the funding for that additional position is used is determined by the school’s site-based council, which means it could be converted to help pay for instructional assistants or even used to buy technology. How the funding is spent is out of the board’s hands — a fact that raised some concern among board members.

While the board can fund the half-time positions, Superintendent Anthony Orr cautioned the board against specifying how the positions are used. That’s getting into the site-base council’s area of decision-making, Orr said.

While the board funds the half-positions, it can’t control what the individual schools’ site-base councils do with the funding for those positions. Board member Diane Berry said she wanted the funding to be used for a person and not converted into cash for another purpose.

The first motion to approve the change died for lack of a second, prompting additional discussion by the board.

Hockensmith said that OKH principal Robin Handloser had a plan to find sufficient funding to make the half-time position at the school into a full-time position, though the site-based council still has ultimate control.

Berry said it would make more sense to provide a full-time position rather than half-time so the schools.

Board member Rebekah McGuire-Dye suggested the board revisit the half-position allocations in December to review their effectiveness, and if determine if the issue needs to be revisited.

On its second try, the board unanimously approved the changes to the formula for middle school staff allocation, which will give both middle schools an additional half-time position.

In other business the board:

— reviewed updates is construction projects, the auditorium at Thomas Nelson High School and the expansion at the district’s Early Learning Center. Both projects are on target to be completed in time for the first day of school.

— received an update on the energy project at Bloomfield Middle School. The schools heating and cooling system was fueled by propane, but will use geothermal heating and cooling. The project tied into the geothermal well field at the neighboring Bloomfield Elementary School.

— after questions surfaced at the last board meeting about substitute teacher pay, the board approved a measure to increase substitute pay by $5 a day. Board member Diane Berry said it wasn’t enough of a raise for substitute teachers, but it was a start.

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