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Board reviews plans to add 4 school nurses, hire school resource officer

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 — The Nelson County Board of Education received updates Thursday on the district’s plans to create a School Resource Officer position, hire more school nurses, and the changes underway at Horizons school.

Robbie Leathers, the district’s director of pupil personnel, and Cheryl Pile, director of federal and state programs, update the board on the plans to add four new school nurses.

Robbie Leathers, the district’s director of pupil personnel, and Cheryl Pile, director of federal and state programs, provided the board with an overview of the current school nurse program and how the district will be adding new nurses.

The district presently employs five school nurses who each travel between two or three schools. The five nurses are employed by the district at a cost of about $225,000.

The plan is to hire four additional nurses to give each building a nurse with the exception of four buildings — Bloomfield Middle and Bloomfield Elementary will share one nurse, and Old Kentucky Home Middle School and Horizons Academy will also share one nurse.

The four additional nurses are expected to cost the district about $190,000, Leathers told the board.

As part of this expansion, the district also plans to partner with a company that can bill Medicaid for the reimbursable costs of providing the healthcare services to qualifying students. The Lincoln Trail Health Department is one of several companies being evaluated to perform the Medicaid billing, he explained.

The goal is for the Medicaid reimbursement to eventually pay for the cost of adding the additional nurses, Leathers explained. The board may be asked to make a decision on a vendor before the end of October.

The first nurse hired will be placed at Nelson County High School. The district’s current head nurse — who covers NCHS, OKHMS and Horizons — be freed up in order to serve as the head nurse with the title of district health services coordinator.

“If we can hire all four nurses at the same time, ideally, that’s what we’ll do,” Leathers told the board. “We’ll move as fast as we can get people on board.”

Getting the Medicaid billing in place will require having the new nurses in place first before training can happen. Leathers said Medicaid reimbursement should be in place by the end of the current school year.

Despite the fact the nurses will do billing through the outside company, the nurses will all be district employees, Tom Brown, interim superintendent, told the board.

The expanding nursing services will help improve attendance in each school building, Brown said, and that in turn means more funding from state programs that are based on attendance numbers.

Board member David Norman said the nursing program can even save lives by having trained medical professionals in each of the district schools. Having a nurse available will also free up teachers from having to address healthcare issues on their own in the classroom, he said.

SRO UPDATE. Tim Hockensmith, the district’s chief operating officer, told the board that work continues on creating the School Resource Officer program, and that the district is still in conversation with law enforcement agencies regarding the program’s structure.

“I certainly expect to have the position posted and hopefully someone to introduce you to over the next few weeks,” he said.

In other business, the board of education:

— heard an update from Kim Brown about the changes being implemented at Horizons Academy. The school has been divided into two entities within the same building — the Academy at Horizons, and the Horizons In-School Suspension program. The Academy focuses on academic improvement and credit recovery, while the in-school suspension program focuses on addressing student behavior.

— received an update on a Better Days through Better Ways application for a $1,000 by the FFA program at Nelson County High School. The grant will pay for the purchase and supplies to raise 40 chicks for seven weeks. Students will learn to how to slaughter and prepare the chickens for cooking and later human consumption.

— listened to superintendent search proposals from representatives of the Kentucky School Board Association and the Kentucky Association of School Administrators. Both organizations charge a fee to assist the district in searching and screening potential candidates for school superintendent.

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