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Katonah-Lewisboro School Officials Explain Nursing Cuts

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Katonah-Lewisboro School District officials say that despite the elimination of two part-time elementary nursing positions called for by the 2012-13 proposed budget, the district remains adequately staffed with nurses and is in line with other school districts in Westchester and Rockland counties.

At the board of education meeting last week, some residents expressed concern about the loss of the two part-time positions. However, Michael Jumper, the assistant superintendent for business, said the cuts simply reflect a declining student population.

According to Jumper, the part-time elementary nursing positions were added in the late 1990s when each full-time nursing position, inclusive of the part-time positions, handled 402 students. Today, based upon declining enrollment and the proposed budget recommendation, each full-time elementary nurse would handle 367 students on average, or approximately 9 percent fewer students.

“The health and safety of our students is the district’s first priority, and our nursing staff is a critical component of the district’s services to children and staff,” Jumper said. “We firmly believe that this revised staffing structure will continue to support a high level of care and safety for our students.”

Jumper said that next year’s four elementary school populations are projected to range from 325 to 420 students. In 2010-11, the Bedford Central, Chappaqua, Yorktown and Briarcliff school districts had elementary school populations ranging from 291 to 671 students with one nurse in each school. Somers, like Katonah-Lewisboro, had 1.5 and 1.6 nurses in its two buildings, which are much larger than Katonah-Lewisboro’s schools.

Jumper said that Northern Westchester BOCES conducted a survey of nursing services in individual school districts in Westchester and Rockland in 2010-11 that showed of 136 elementary schools, only 18 had more than one nurse in their buildings, and four of those 18 schools are in Katonah-Lewisboro.

Each Katonah-Lewisboro elementary school will retain a full-time nurse and John Jay Middle School and High School will each continue to have two full-time nurse positions under the 2012-13 recommended budget.

Jumper said the district officials are trying to be mindful of being efficient with taxpayer resources and are simply basing staffing needs on enrollment projections.

“We greatly respect the contributions of our nurses to the health and safety of our students,” Jumper said. “We note that based upon our current enrollments and continuing decline in student population that our staff model for nurse services in our buildings still typically exceeds that of most surrounding school districts.”

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