Committee recommends creating new school nurse classification

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Dr. Nicole Leapley on Dec. 21, 2022. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) Policy Committee met on Wednesday night for their last meeting of 2022, making a set of decisions before reconvening in the new year.

The committee recommended a proposed policy that effectively split the Manchester School District’s nurses into two separate categories.

This split came due to a fairly new state law requiring school nurses to hold certifications from the New Hampshire Department of Education, with those certifications requiring bachelor’s degrees. However, that requirement only comes into play with employees holding the title of “school nurse,” leading other districts across the state to refer to nurses with experience as registered nurses or licensed nursing assistants but not certifications as something other than a “school nurse” even though they play that role.

The new “School Nurse I” position would consist of these non-certified, but otherwise qualified nurses, with those meeting the school nurse requirements under the state law now being placed within the “School Nurse II” job title.

Three nurses that were already with the school district prior to the law but who did not meet the requirements would be grandfathered into the second tier.

Until this school year, school nurses at Manchester’s public schools were not employees of the district, but employees of the city’s Health Department contracted to the district.

Ward 11 BOSC Member Dr. Nicole Leapley expressed frustration with the law, stating that it made it more expensive to become a school nurse given the extra level of education needed, which then raises salary requirements that school districts must pay. She also expressed frustration with that added tier of requirements posed by the state when the district still faces a shortage of nurses.

Individuals employed in the “School Nurse I” category would be given assistance by the district toward eventually obtaining a bachelor’s degree and certification from the state.

Another proposed amendment to the Manchester School District’s attendance policy was sent back to administration after concerns that some reorganization was needed.

The amendments modified language related to truancy, with additional language relating to absences on remote learning days and updates to interventions for students identified as frequently truant.

Regarding the remote learning day absence addition, students would be expected to participate in assigned work for the day either online or through paper materials that can be submitted at a later date.

Leapley and Ward 2 BOSC Member Sean Parr felt that the wording of the new policy should be modified in areas to provide additional clarity. Leapley also asked that parents and students be involved in the crafting of the policy change given the feedback she has received from students on the topic of absences during remote learning days.


About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.