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School nurses program costs Laurel County district over $700K

Apr. 3—A healthcare company's proposal to operate the Laurel County School District's nursing program has caused concern throughout the community with some misconceptions of the program's goals.

Laurel County School Superintendent Denise Griebel said the reports that Family Health Care's operation of the school nurse program would cost the school district approximately $710,000 was incorrect.

Griebel said the nurse program costs the school district that amount in its current state. Family Health Care would not be charging the school district any money for providing services.

Additionally, the takeover by Family Health Care does not involve eliminating the 18 current school nurse jobs as was the public perception.

"Should the board have chosen to approve the contract with Family Health Care, that decision would not have exactly eliminated approximately 18 nurse positions, as the currently employed board nurses would have been given the opportunity to work for Family Health Care, the 'right of refusal,' as discussed in the previous board meeting," Griebel explained. "The nurses' future employment as a school nurse serving Laurel County would have been their choice."

Nurses and some staff opposing the contract were present for last week's meeting to express their concerns, with the major one being their status in the state retirement system. Several school nurses are close to retirement status and fear what would happen should the school nurse program be bid to an independent contractor.

After hearing some specifics of the contract, Laurel County School board members voted unanimously to reject the bid, bringing many staff and nurses present to their feet amidst applause.

That decision settled the issue for the upcoming school year of 2024-2025. Griebel said she could not predict whether the company — and another company that had expressed interest — would make another offer for the next school year. She did say, however, that the issue was resolved for the upcoming school year.