Lawmakers Push to Have School Nurses in Nearly Every AR School

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - You never know when a medical emergency will happen. That's why lawmakers are hoping to pass new legislation putting a school nurse in nearly every school in the state. Some say funding is an issue, but one principal says she has to be the nurse a few days a week even though she has no formal medical training. 
 
Lawmakers say even though many school districts across the state have an adequate number of nurses, they say others don't. It's a bill that has been discussed in the legislature for years and they hope to pass it this session. 
 
Teresa Richardson has been the principal at Western Hills Elementary in Little Rock for the last five years. While she stays busy with her typical duties, three days a week she plays another role. 
 
"If we have an emergency come up, then that's me," said Richardson. 
 
Richardson fills in when the nurse is out. 
 
"It's not the tiny scrapes everyday, it's the big things that are the problem," said Richardson. "I'm not a medical professional, I'm a mother." 
 
The school nurse is also the nurse at another Little Rock School District Elementary. LRSD coordinator of health service, Margo Bushmiaer, says the district gets by with the number of nurses on staff, but other schools don't have much when it comes to health care. 
 
"I know parents that have had to move to other districts so they could get someone during the school day to help take care of their student," said Bushmiaer. 
 
That's why lawmakers are eyeing a change. State Representative Andy Mayberry has presented legislation that would put a nurse in nearly every school. 
 
"It's important to the kids in our state and it's important to those parents out there," said Mayberry. 
 
Opponents of the bill say money is an issue and it's an unfunded mandate. Mayberry says the money is there, but it may not be used the right way. 
 
"We've got to prioritize what's the most important and I think that taking care of our kids needs to be on the top of that list," said Mayberry. 
 
Richardson says she would just feel better if there was a full-time nurse on staff. 
 
"I'm not somebody that gives an EpiPen everyday and the educator in me wants to read the side of the box to make sure that I'm doing it correct, but you don't have time to do that in an emergency," said Richardson. 
 
The bill would also ensure the right type of nurse is performing duties within the scope of their licenses. The house is set to vote on this bill Wednesday. To read the bill, click here.

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