Grant will again fund school nurse

Published 5:00 am Friday, July 18, 2008

The Brookhaven School District is one of 33 school districtsthat were given or renewed for another year’s grants in the SchoolNurse Intervention Program through the Mississippi Board ofEducation.

Superintendent Lea Barrett said the grant will continue to payfor nurse Connie Board, who works primarily out of LipseySchool.

“We’re thrilled to continue in this program,” she said.

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Barrett explained that when Board was first hired, her salarywas paid through a tobacco-free grant that was then moved to theDepartment of Human Services and eventually the Department ofEducation took it over as part of the School Nurse InterventionProgram.

The school district currently has two other nurses, Rosie Oatesand Cindy Wilson. Oates’ salary comes from Title One federalgrants, Barrett said, while Wilson’s comes from School BasedAdministrative Claiming Act.

“What that is, in essence, is that Medicaid pays the schooldistrict some funds for screening children for referrals, andthat’s how we can afford to pay Cindy,” Barrett said.

And while the school district is lucky to have three nurses,Barrett said, it wouldn’t hurt to have more.

“School nurses have changed a lot from the days of aspirin andBand-Aids, when you’d go lay down for 30 minutes after you falldown on the playground,” she said. “Children these days have somany more medical issues, and they’re taking so many moremedicines.”

Barrett said in a report that Oates wrote on the 1,275 childrenshe serves between kindergarten and fourth grade, the nurse had tohave almost 1,900 conferences with parents or faculty at MamieMartin Elementary and Brookhaven Elementary.

“Our school nurses do so much more than just administertreatment to the children,” she said. “They also help us with theflu shots for the staff district-wide, they help schedule sportsphysicals, give nutritional advice and help with drug prevention,among other things.”

In addition, she said, the nurses help with height, weight andscoliosis screenings.

“We have three nurses K through 8 and we could easily doublethat and keep them busy,” Barrett said.

The district has applied for funding for another nurse throughthe School Nurse Intervention Program, Barrett said, though theyhave not heard back on a decision yet. Funding for the nurses isvery important to the school district each year, she said.

“We look for every dollar we can to put into our nurses becausethey are so important to our schools,” she said. “The role of theschool nurse is more important now than ever.”

Barrett said the health of the children of the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict is a priority, as evidenced by their efforts in the areaof school nutrition, Barrett said. Brookhaven Elementary, MamieMartin Elementary, and Lipsey Middle School were all awarded SilverCertificates earlier this year by the USDA Food and NutritionService. Only 32 schools nationwide received that honor.

“Children cannot be expected to excel in the classroom if theirhealth needs are not addressed,” she said.

Lawrence County Schools and Hazlehurst Schools were also amongarea schools that received the School Nurse Intervention ProgramGrants.