Parents and school nurses urged the Scottsdale Unified School District governing board not to save money by replacing registered nurses as the district began budget discussions Tuesday night.
One of many revenue enhancement options recommended by the district’s parents budget committee to overcome a $2.1 million deficit is saving about $200,000 by replacing registered nurses at all schools with licensed practical nurses.
"My son could not survive the school day safely each day without a properly educated nurse," said Hollis Volk, whose Hopi Elementary School son has type 1 diabetes. She said, "You should dismiss this out of hand."
Other parents and school nurses shared similar concerns.
"Putting paraprofessionals in our schools will place children at risk," said Maggie West, nurse at Anasazi Elementary School.
Paula Rutt, nurse at Saguaro High School, said a licensed practical nurse would not be able to provide the kind of preventive care a nurse with a four-year degree can.
Other recommendations from the parent committee included eliminating fourthgrade band and strings at a savings of $260,000, or cutting back music staff to save about $210,000.
Linda Giacoppo, a parent from the Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center area, disagreed with doing away with music programs.
Scottsdale Parent Council president Suanne Rudley said while the budget-cutting ideas are painful with the districts bare minimal funding, recommendations focus on causing the least pain to core education.
The committee also recommends parents reimburse music festivals by donating refunded tax credits, along with charging a $25 student fee for joining school clubs.
Principals recommended lowering the cap on employee flexible spending accounts from $2,000 to $1,000 and cutting off new employees to the program, saving $600,000.
A survey of teachers pinpointed salary increases as its main priority amid dozens of revenue-enhancing ideas.
Board member Christine Schild advised that it might be time to consider consolidating the school district, possibly by closing a school.
This year the district projects a loss of 597 students, including 344 elementary pupils.
Schild said she is concerned, though, that a southern school would end up being closed because the consolidation of schools most likely would take place in south Scottsdale.