Not content to stand by and await a budget verdict, supporters of the school nurse program are rallying to preserve state funding.
“Presently, we really need parents to go to our Web site [www.gasn.org] and sign the nurse petition to have the funds reinstated,” said Jeannie Edwards, director of the Georgia Association of School Nurses.
The governor’s budget proposal would cut $30 million in state funds for school nursing services in Georgia, essentially eliminating the program.
Edwards, a nurse for 18 years in the Dawson County school system, said legislators will not make a final decision on funding until June.
The link for the petition can be found on the left side of the Web site, Edwards said, and takes about 30 seconds to fill out.
She said Dawson County receives about $75,000 in state funding for school nurses, just a fraction of what’s needed to fund the program.
Northside Hospital, Big Canoe and United Way are a few of the local organizations that have helped cover the funding gap.
Statewide, school systems have had to rely on local governments and community organizations to make up the difference. Those sources also have been affected by the economic downturn.
“Without the $30 million, we will most likely lose many school nurse positions [statewide],” Edwards said.
“Consequently, it would have a tremendous adverse affect on children’s school attendance, safety and academic achievement.”
Edwards has said people may not realize the nurse program has evolved with the changing needs of children.
“We are not just providing first aid,” she said. “We have more and more children with special health care needs that require attention several times a day.”
Statewide, school nurses are responsible for monitoring diabetic assessments, feeding tubes and catheterizations, as well as helping with breathing equipment.
They also must handle chronic health care conditions and administer prescription medication during the school day.
Among the many ailments they see are asthma, seizures, heart disorders and life-threatening allergies.
“The $30 million should be reinstated for the school nurse program because the local governments cannot absorb any more, they are already supporting 80 percent of the program,” Edwards said.
E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at email@example.com.