RWHS nurse shortage addressed
Red Wing School Board gave the high school the shot in the arm staff wanted.
Superintendent Karsten Anderson recommended the board to authorize hiring a building nurse for Red Wing High School at the Nov. 21 meeting.
Currently, the district has nurses at Sunnyside Elementary, Burnside Elementary and Twin Bluff Middle School. Kris Klassen, the districtwide licensed school nurse, serves as the building nurse for the 900 students at Red Wing High School and is also expected to provide support for private schools, River Bluff Education Center, Tower View Alternative Learning Center and homeschool families.
During the past year of the Personnel Committee's support service discussions, nursing coverage has become the strongest area of concern.
Board Chair Janie Farrar said after hearing the situations that support staff are dealing with in the schools, the nursing shortage is more than just a budgetary issue.
"We see this as a safety need," Farrar said.
The proposed full-time high school nurse would cost $30,000-$35,000 a year.
Board member Steve Anderson expressed concerns with the proposed job posting on the heels of the district's failed referendum.
"The first meeting back (after referendum failure) we're going to add $30-35,000 to the budget? It just doesn't seem to mesh with what the taxpayers are telling us," he said. "A lot of kids in high school know their medical needs and can take care of themselves."
The high school has not had a building-specific nurse in a decade.
"We've gotten by at the high school, but our needs are going up," Board member Bethany Borgschatz said. "The need is rising and we need to rise with the needs."
If the high school nurse position would be filled, Superintendent Anderson said Klassen would be able to serve as a substitute building nurse when a substitute can not be found, saving the district some money. Finding qualified substitutes has been a challenge because of wages offered by health care employers in the area. The superintendent said that often secretaries are expected to meet the immediate needs of students when Klassen is serving other buildings.
"We have to think about the liability piece as well, and what we are responsible to do for the safety and security of all needs within our buildings," Board member Pam Roe said.
Roe said secretaries do not have the proper training to assist with feeding tubes or other more involved medical needs.
"If there is a child that has a need that is urgent and we can't get the help they need with immediacy, I think it will cost us way more than $30,000 to address," Roe said.
After discussions, the board unanimously approved the motion.