In a recent tweet responding to Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal to have school nurses conduct COVID-19 testing, the Tennessee Education Association highlighted the need for the state to provide funding for a nurse in every school.
The issue of school nurses has been on the agenda of the state’s BEP Review Committee for years. In fact, back in 2014, the committee (tasked with annually evaluating the efficacy of the state’s school funding formula), recommended a significant improvement in funding for school nurses.
Here’s the recommendation from the 2014 report:
Change funding ratios for nurses from 1:3,000 to 1:1,500 $12,194,000
So, for at least six years now (and, to be fair, BEP reports before 2014 also mentioned improvements to funding for school nurses), the state has fallen significantly short of the necessary funding to adequately staff schools with nurses. Now, Gov. Lee wants to add tasks without adding personnel.
Here’s the deal: The management principle of “get more with less” is total crap. Gov. Lee should know this, as he came to state government straight from the private sector. Here’s what you get when you ask overworked, underpaid people to do more with less: You get less. Something has to suffer. Maybe COVID tests will happen, but something else will fall by the wayside. Or, maybe less people will even consider becoming school nurses in Tennessee, further exacerbating the current shortage.
Six years. Two Governors named Bill. No action.
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