School Nurse Petition and Hearing

The impending changes to DC’s public school nurse staffing have prompted civic action:

–The Washington Teachers’ Union along with the DC Nurses Association is circulating a petition to Mayor Bowser, demanding that each DC public school have a full-time nurse. The petition has nearly 600 signatures already–you can add yours here.

–The city council will be holding a hearing on school nurses next week, on Tuesday October 25 at 2:30 pm in the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). Sign-up is here. If you wish to testify in person, be sure to sign up before Monday October 24. Otherwise, you can submit written testimony to Jess Giles, Legislative Analyst, at jgiles@dccouncil.us

It is not clear what the cost of this new staffing model is compared to that of the old model–but budgetary concerns have been a longstanding issue. Current law requires that a nurse is in each DC public school at least 20 hours a week. In recent years, however, even that standard has been occasionally hard to meet, as the contract held by the Department of Health for school nurses was not updated for years running, while more and more schools were created that needed nurses.

In 1999-2000, for instance, DC had 185 public schools serving 74,800 students. In 2014-15, DC had 223 public schools serving 85,400 students (data is from the 21st Century School Fund).

Thus, over a decade and a half, with a gain of 10,600 public school students (14% growth), DC had 38 more public schools (20% growth). During most of that time, the school nurse contract was not updated, and some schools with full-time nurses lost them.

The DC Department of Health, which is working on the new nurse staffing, promises to have a preliminary staffing list out in November.

More information on the nurse staffing changes is available here and here.

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