Shrinking budgets force nurses out of Ocean Springs schools

Shrinking budgets force nurses out of Ocean Springs schools

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Budget cuts have forced Ocean Springs schools to let go of their nurses.  When the school bell rings next year, registered nurses will be gone.  They'll be replaced by licensed practical nurses.

Superintendent Dr. Bonita Coleman-Potter said the change in who provides medical care at each Ocean Springs school will save the school district much needed money.

Why release the RNs and switch to this new medical care system? The school district lost a state grant two years ago that covered some of its nursing costs.

With budgets becoming tighter, Coleman-Potter said services like nursing had to be scrutinized.

"We're having to do more with less," said Coleman-Potter, noting her district expects to lose as much as $2 million in MAEP funding next year. "Our wish is we would not even be having this conversation. We're going to try and provide as much as we can, the best care we can."

Currently, Ocean Springs has a registered nurse at each of its six schools. That setup costs the district $355,000 in salaries and benefits every year.

Next year, the school district will have one nurse practitioner and one registered nurse in its central office. Each school will have an LPN on campus. School district employees and their dependents will also have access to a free health clinic.

The new plan trims $23,000 from that line item on the school district budget.

"We compete for employees," Coleman-Potter said, explaining why the health clinic addition is so vital to her district. "Economics matter.  This is a benefit we can provide to them."

Using LPNs on campus is not unusual. Coleman-Potter points out Pass Christian schools have a similar medical care system in place.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.