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posted: 7/31/2012 12:01 AM

District 26 OKs hire of new registered nurse

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Reversing a trend of the past few years, the Cary Elementary District 26 school board Monday approved the addition of a full-time registered nurse to the district's staff.

Board members voted 6-0 in favor of hiring a registered nurse to serve the entire district. The nurse will primarily serve Three Oaks School, particularly the incoming kindergarten population, but will also serve as a permanent substitute for nurses in other buildings.

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The latest hire brings the total number of registered nurses in the district to six. In the past three years, about one-third of the district's nursing services had been reduced, Jennifer Thomas, director of special services wrote in a memo submitted to the board. That reduction has hampered the district's abilities to adequately provide health support to students.

"While our student population has declined during this time, the reduction of nursing staff has outpaced the declining student population," Thomas wrote.

In addition, Superintendent Brian Coleman said the district is serving more students with health issues that require close attention.

"Our nurses provide vital care to our students on a daily basis for students that have allergies or require insulin ..., and that becomes a serious concern if you don't have the staff on hand to provide that," Coleman said. "We want to make sure we have the appropriate staff to meet the needs of our students."

Administrators estimate the cost to the district would be about $10,000.

Board member Scott Coffey raised concerns over the amount of money the district is spending on support services compared to general education.

"We are spending $2.6 million on support services, and we're only spending $7.5 million in salaries, education, purchase services and supplies in regular education," Coffey said.

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