Possible Job Cuts for School Nurses

February 23, 2009 7:16:26 PM PST
South Valley education officials are considering cutting off high-qualified nurses at schools to help close a $7.5 million budget gap.Connie Tavarez is the registered nurse at El Diamante High School in Visalia. She sees up to sixty students a day sometimes Tavarez has to act fast during an emergency-- like one incident where a student came in complaining of a headache.

Connie Tavarez says "He started to show symptoms of a head concussion and I had to call 9-1-1. Had I not assessed I think it would have been confused for maybe defiance."

Tavarez says having a Registered Nurse on hand can mean the difference between life and death. Visalia Unified administrators are considering replacing 12 of the district's 16 Registered Nurses with Licensed Vocational Nurses or LVNs. This would mean Tavarez would be out of a job, but more importantly, she says it would put students' health at risk.

Tavarez says "We also have a credential so anywhere from 6-8 years of education. An LVN's training is about 12-14 months."

Some parents say they'd prefer an RN in an emergency but feel LVNs would know how to act in an emergency.

Charise Weisenborn, a parent, says "You would hope it's cuts on minimal things that aren't necessary and not the safety of our children."

School administrators are trying to help close a $7.5 million budget gap. The move would save $450,000.

Stan Carrizosa, the Superintendent of Visalia Unified School District, says "We would maintain a team of RNs that could support and supervise the most medically fragile kids and the work of the LVNs. Again, we're taking a look at it. It's not a final deal by any means."

More cuts are also imminent. A lack of state funding will already impact tobacco, vocational and agriculture education for the 2009-10 school year.

Carrizosa says "There's no longer travel and conference staff development or training. We're not purchasing any new equipment, vehicles, capital outlay facilities, construction. It's come to pretty much a halt."

Carrizosa says layoffs are possible as well as bigger class sizes.

The twelve nurses who are in jeopardy of losing their jobs will be at Tuesday's school board meeting to object this proposal they'll also be there with several doctors who are in support of them. Tuesday's school board meeting will be at 7pm at the Rotary Theater.

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