Loss of 2nd Nurse Upsets Some at New Monmouth Elementary
Some parents say the school population justifies its need for two nurses. They spoke out at the Board of Education meeting Wednesday night.
For 23 years New Monmouth Elementary School has had the benefit of two school nurses to serve its population. At the present time, there are 474 pre-school through five grade students enrolled. Thirty-five have are have autism, and some pre-schoolers have multiple disabilities.
But on June 30 one of the longtime nurses is retiring and Schools Superintendent William O. George, in consultation with administration, has recommended the position be closed leaving the school with one nurse, just like other similar district schools.
"It was not equitable with programs across the district, based on total population, special education population, number of one-on-one paraprofessionals," said Superintendent George in response to a New Monmouth PTA member's question at Wednesday night's Board of Education meeting. "We even looked health office visits and compared them. This was not undertaken lightly."
At the request of the parent, he agreed to share the data he compiled.
Another parent who spoke out said she feared how one nurse could handle the job it currently takes two to do.
The nurse who is retiring after 28 years, Esther-Lynn Ciprich, was asked to give comment to the board. She emphasized a need to fill her shoes.
"I invite anyone of you to come and spend a day with me in the health office. Every day I have a plan, and by 9:09 it is changed completely," she said.
Ciprich works with School Nurse Eileen Gavin. Some of their special needs students are non-verbal. Emergencies occur. Some of the typical children have daily special medical needs.
Two members of the 9-member school board did not vote in favor of the adopting the $145 million spending plan Wednesday night, in part because they said they were not satisified with a health office staff change at New Monmouth, one of the district's 17 schools.
Board Vice President Joan Minnues said she was not comfortable with allowing the nursing team to be halved after hearing from the parents. "I was okay with the data we were given, but truthfully, I don't know. This to us is a serious issue."
Leonara Caminiti said she too was moved to look beyond the administration's "data points" about the reality of the unique medical needs of the school community.
"That's really very important. I'm not happy with this," Caminiti said.