Skip to content

School Board Contemplates Adding Nurse

Yalobusha General Hospital Administrator Terry Varner makes his presentation on the benefits of having a school nurse.

School board members of the Water Valley School District were thanked last week during National School Board Member Recognition Week. The group includes (from left) Cayce Washington, Lamar Burgess, Taylor Trusty, Pierce Epes and Steve Edwards.

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – Establishing a medical presence in Water Valley High School came up for the third time since November at Monday night’s meeting of the School District Board of Trustees.

Yalobusha General Hospital Administrator Terry Varner made a presentation on the benefits of having a school nurse. His appearance followed two similar presentations – one Nov. 19 and another Jan. 18 – by Leresha Gerard, Administrator of Healthy Me, Inc. of Grenada. Gerard told the Board that her company could provide the services of a medical clinic with a nurse practitioner inside the school.

Varner began with a handout (reproduced below) that showed how having a school nurse could decrease absenteeism by assessing students for illnesses or injuries that occur during the school day.  The statistics from one Mississippi school showed that the vast majority of students seen for illness or injury did not need treatment and were sent back to class.

“When this idea first came up I didn’t think there would be a need for a school nurse program,” Varner said. “It is not something where we wanted to come in and be in the way of you guys educating students.”

But, after talking to Superintendent Dr. Deborah Moran, Varner said he could see there is a need. “Not necessarily for a nurse practitioner, but I think we can put in a registered nurse here. I see that there are a lot of kids who are under-served.”

Varner explained that an RN could handle such things as screenings, treatments, and providing students with their already prescribed medications. He assured the board members that the nurse would coordinate with providers in the local medical community for other health care services.

The nurse would be in the high school from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. But, Varner said, they would coordinate with the Davidson Elementary School Nurse for such services as early childhood screenings for elementary age students.

Varner and Principal Dr. Glen Kitchen have surveyed the high school for possible locations that would provide enough room “and, at the same time, not be a distraction.”

“When you think of teenagers, if there is a reason to be out of class they are going to use it a lot of the time,” Varner said. “We don’t want to be in the middle of the action over there.”

Varner emphasized that a lot would be dependent on parental consent. “You don’t want to drag kids in there and send a bill home with them, which I have heard has happened in other districts.”

Trustee Casey Washington asked if flu shots could be given as part of the program and Varner said they could. “If you can give these kids the flu shot, you can keep them in class, they are not going to be as sick, and it is not going to be as widespread.”

Washington also asked if narcotic drugs would be kept at the school and Varner said they would not.

The hospital administrator said that he would like to finish out the school year with the nurse in place at the high school to see if the program will work. “It could be one of those things where we get in here and we’re in the teachers’ way and it’s not helping the educational experience at all. We could ratchet it back if we need to.”

Washington asked if any fees would be assessed to the school. Varner explained that all billing would be to insurance or through the Medicaid program.

Dr. Moran said that permission slips would be sent out so that parents would know about the program.

Trustee Pierce Epes asked how the issue of liability would be handled. Varner said that the contract would describe the limits of liability and the parents would be informed that services are provided by Yalobusha General Hospital and not the Water Valley School District.  “We would put the language in there to hold the district harmless.”

Varner sees the role of the school nurse as triage for the local medical service providers, “not us down here providing primary care.”

Board President Lamar Burgess asked Dr. Moran if there had been any communication with Healthy Me Clinic, Inc. since the death of Administrator Leresha Gerard. She said that the last phone call she received was to cancel a scheduled meeting and there had been none after that.

Dr. Moran said that she appreciated what Yalo-busha General was trying to do for the School District because there is a need. “However we do have to draw a line in the sand, too. We are going to have to work with parents and help them understand that this is their responsibility to get the types of services a child needs in a doctor’s office.”

Board members agreed that they wanted to see a contract before taking a vote at the next scheduled Board meeting on March 7.


Board Members Thanked During Recognition Week

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – The five members of the local School District Board of Trustees were thanked last week for their leadership and service during School Board Member Recognition Week.

The five: Lamar Burgess, Taylor Trusty, Cayce Washington, Dr. Steve Edwards and Pierce Epes are among 750 Mississippians who serve on local school boards across the state.

“School Board Member Recognition Week in Mississippi provides a perfect opportunity to honor the contributions being made daily by our school board members,” said Superinten-dent Dr. Deborah Moran.

Serving on a local school board has always been more than what the public sees: meetings once or twice a month (and sometimes more); deciding tough, often emotional issues such as school renovations, the calendar, dress codes and attendance boundaries; and regularly receiving calls and emails regarding parent and community complaints and issues, Dr. Moran added.

The most significant role of our board members is ensuring the proper education preparation of the district’s students for an ever-changing world, according to the Superintendent.  “Board members help spread the word about the individual and collective successes of our students and our professional staff.  And this year they will face perhaps the greatest test of their leadership as we work to ensure that tight financial situations don’t translate into a reduction in the quality of education we can offer.”

“This community is fortunate to have a team of dedicated men on the Water Valley School Board,” Moran continued.  “Board members are champions both of fiscal responsibility and community progress.  For these and many other reasons, they deserve our support and appreciation.”

The longest serving member is Board President Lamar Burgess with 11 years followed by Secretary Cayce Washington with six years. Vice President Taylor Trusty has five years of service, Dr. Steve Edwards has three years and Pierce Epes has one year.

The five board members were presented certificates during a special meeting last Tuesday, Feb. 15. They also toured both Davidson Elementary School and Water Valley High School.


February 21, 2011 School Board Report

The House of Representatives has passed the K-12 education bill, HB1494. The funding in HB1494 is approximately $25.5-million above the Legislative Budget Recommendation, largely due to a $16.3-million increase in the cost to provide state retirement. HB1494 as passed by the House provides level funding for the MAEP, teacher supply funds, and the National Board Certification Program. Though the bill underfunds the MAEP by $232-million, it is a fair and balanced bill, avoiding any additional cuts beyond the dramatic cuts under which schools are currently operating while making cautious use of improved state revenue. The bill will now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee where changes are possible. We are watching that action closely and will inform our members if we believe school funding is in danger of more cuts. Our Representative, Tommy Reynolds, voted for this bill. Please thank Tommy when you see him.

Congratulations to Katie Naron for being selected as DES’s candidate for MDE’s Teacher of the Year Nomination. This is a correction to last board meeting report.

Month 5 Data has been verified in MSIS. Our ADA has slipped as predicted due to time of year and the unusual snow. Davidson Elementary is 94.61%, down 1.91%, Water Valley High School is 92.10%, down 5.02%, which makes our District ADA 93.50% which is 3% below our goal. However, our District ADA Average over the past 5 months is 96% which is only .5% away from our goal. We are still on track to reach our school and district goal of 96.5% at this time. Keep up the good work!

Discipline-Davidson Elementary has 638(89.6%) students out of 712 that have NO discipline referrals for the month. Water Valley High School has 426(76.4%) students out of 558 students that have NO discipline referrals. Our total enrollment dropped from 1281 to 1270. Davidson Elementary lost 4 students and WVHS lost 7 students.   Enrollment has gone from 1295, 1274, 1285, 1281, 1270. DBS started the year with 713 and now has 712. WVHA started with 582 and now has 558.

Our Board Appreciation Walk-through February 1 5th was very enlightening. Thank you Dr. Kitchens and your staff, Mr. Drewrey and your staff, and Meghan Marshall and the cafeteria staff for making our visit an opportunity to “Show and Tell” all the good things happening in our school district. This also gave our Board Members the opportunity to see some of our needs in the areas of technology and facilities. I want to thank the board for also taking the time to be acknowledged at half time of our last home basketball game.

I have invited Dr. Kitchens, Mr. Drewrey and Ms. Dickerson to an Overview of Common Core Standards and Assessments workshop to be held in Oxford/Tupelo. This workshop will be delivered by Dr. Lynn House and Ken Thompson. The workshop will be a full day session from 8:30 to 3:30 with lunch being provided. I look forward to them presenting the information they receive to us.

We are still looking for ideas and/or suggestions on how to make up the last two snow days. Suggestions include Saturday and two days in June. Our next make-up day is Easter Monday, April 25th. We will not use Spring Break based on teacher/faculty input at this time. I am waiting until our second meeting in March to make my final recommendation for make-up days. I’ve been told the Almanac is predicting snow in March. I would like to suggest that if possible we consider making up any missed days from this point forward on the following Saturday if weather permits. I will share this idea with our calendar committee when we meet tomorrow to discuss next year’s calendar. Just in case the ‘unusual’ weather is back next year .

I am sad to say we did not receive the E2T2 Grant. We will continue to seek additional funding.

Our next scheduled Board Meeting is March 7th.


The Benefits of Having a School Nurse

(Informational Handout From Hospital Administrator Terry Varner)

Mississippi school’s statistics show the disposition of students seen for illness during the school year by the school nurse. They include: 1,206 sent home, 95 were sent for medical referral, and 3, 824 were sent back to class. The disposition of students seen by the school nurse for injury during the school year include: 56 sent home, 44 were sent for medical referral and 1,221 were sent back to class.

Absenteeism is an important outcome that school nurses influence. School nurses decrease absenteeism by assessing students for illnesses or injuries that occur during the school day. In our community, injured or sick students can easily be referred to one of the hospital employed nurse practitioners or physicians. Speech therapy is also offered through the hospital, and the school nurse can refer and coordinate appointments as needed.

The school RN will support student learning by providing medication, treatments and procedures for students with special health care needs during the school day.

The RN will provide health assessments as mandated by state law: vision, hearing and scoliosis screenings. In addition, the school RN will coordinate with community organizations to provide needed services to students and their families:

  • Health Care
  • Vision Services
  • Dental Services
  • Counseling
  • Clothing, food and shelter needs

The school RN will monitor and educate staff and students regarding communicable diseases and other health issues.

The school RN will also serve the faculty and staff by teaching first aid and organizing CPR/AED training. The school RN can also be an asset to staff by educating and training them on emergency interventions for serious health concerns such as life threatening allergies to food, bee slings, and other allergens, sei/.urcs, diabetes and asthma.
The school RN may even offer health education to students regarding nutrilion, exercise, smoking prevention and cessation, oral health, hygiene, substance use and abuse, and immunizations.

The school RN will serve as the case manager, in that she will provide oversight of care and services and serve as the point of contact for communication among the student, family, school staff and health care provider.

The school RN will attend yearly, training with the Mississippi Department of Education, Office of Healthy Schools.

The school RN will connect the students, families, and staff with community health care providers. The local health care system will provide the needed care for students, and the students/parents will feel at ease being referred to health care practitioners that they know and trust.

There’s no need to look outside of the community for what we already have in this community. This is a win-win situation that boosts community morale.

*** Hancock County School Nurses have written for and received grant money for needed school equipment…i.e. exam table, blood pressure machines, oxygen saturation machine, thermometers, glucometers, scales, first aid supplies, etc.



Leave a Comment