Guilford County Health Director Iulia Vann wants to see a school nurse in every county-run school in Guilford County.
At a Monday, April 26 work session, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners discussed whether or not that was something that should be included in the 2021-2022 budget slated to be adopted in June.
This is the second time in a month the commissioners have had an involved discussion on the goal which, though nice to meet, would set the county back about $7 million more each year than the county is currently spending on school nurses.
According to Vann, it would take 69 new school nurses to have one at every elementary, middle and high school in Guilford County’s school system. The commissioners, who have sporadically added school nurses over the past decade, are exploring several options and the outcome will depend largely on what new Guilford County Manager Mike Halford says the county can afford in the upcoming budget.
The $7 million would also include hiring about a half-dozen school nurse supervisors to take on the administrative work.
At the work session, when Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston asked Halford if the county could fund all of the desired positions in the coming budget, Halford presented the board with a very long silence that generated some laughter from the commissioners in the Blue Room in the Old Guilford County Court House – since it was obvious the question made Halford a little squeamish.
Halford said that, on the one hand, it was clear from discussions at the Board of Commissioners annual retreat earlier this year that providing school nurses was a priority. However, Halford also pointed out that the county has to make limited funds cover a lot of other things – including ambitious requests for more funding from the Guilford County Schools and Guilford Technical Community College.
Some commissioners – like Alston – seem to want to get the full slate of school nurses in place as soon as possible, while others, wary of spending the money, prefer to have some school nurses cover more than one school if those schools are close to each other.
Halford will present his proposed budget to the Board of Commissioners sometime in May. The commissioners are supposed to adopt a budget by the end of June.