Board approves restructuring plan

By Greg Gelpi

After initially failing to muster a majority of the board's support, the Clayton County Board of Education approved a plan to revamp the structure of the school system.

The school system is also restructuring its school nursing program. As it is, registered nurses are in all elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.

Through the restructuring, licensed practical nurses would be placed in all schools and RNs would supervise "clusters" of LPNs.

The plan to place LPNs in schools as opposed to placing RNs in all schools has drawn the ire of many, including Kim Spivey, who spoke out against the plan during Monday night's meeting.

Spivey, who has a son with diabetes at Kilpatrick Elementary School, expressed concern that less-trained health practitioners would be more likely to make mistakes.

"Schools are required to provide a safe environment for all children," Spivey told the board.

She questioned why the school system would support having lower qualified school nurses when national nursing and health-care agencies support having RNs in schools.

"There is a lot of flexibility in the law," Assistant Superintendent Luvenia Jackson said, adding that there is no state mandate for the type of nurses to be in schools or the system of structuring nursing programs.

The changes in the school nursing program will be phased in over three years.

The school system has advertised vacancies for 18 LPNs and two RNs. The LPNs would staff six existing vacancies in elementary schools and 12 positions at the 12 middle schools.

Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis said that state tobacco settlement money provides about $880,000 for the school nursing program, but that the school system budgets $1.2 million and picks up the remainder of the costs.

Board member Bob Livingston said that there is a shortage in nurses throughout the country and that it will become increasingly more difficult to hire RNs.

The school nursing changes required no action by the board.

The organizational chart was unanimously approved by the board in an 8-0 vote with board member Ericka Davis absent.

The chart failed 4-4 with Davis absent during an August meeting.

The plan calls for splitting the school system into two branches: an academic branch and an operations branch. The new organizational chart would cut three positions and create six. By funding the new positions through grant money, the school system stands to save $1.2 million through the plan.