New Nurse Requirements for Schools Could Add to Money Problems

School districts in Illinois will have another item to check on their to-do list this summer, finding certified nurses.

Beginning in July, the Illinois State Board of Education is requiring that each district has a certified school nurse to make all decisions regarding special education students.

For many years, school districts have cut cost by hiring less-expensive registered nurses instead of those certified to be in a school setting.  The difference between a registered nurse and a certified school nurse is an additional three college courses and 200 intern hours.

Those against the decision say the timing couldn’t be worse with many of the school districts in Illinois already struggling financially but one local nurse says it’s the better way to go for the special education students.

“Special education students have a medical history that have to be completed,” Glenview Junior High certified school nurse Jennifer Jacobs says.   “What makes a certified nurse unique in that position is that we can mesh the medical component to the educational component to transition them into the school environment.”

Jacobs says the East Moline School District is lucky to already have 4 CSN’s in the district but for those that don’t, hiring could be difficult.

“Certified school nurses are hard to find.  It is time consuming and a financial constraint.”

She says though it will put a financial burden on many districts, it is best for the students.

“We (CSN’s) have that unique education to be able to mesh the students’ health and educational needs, so I do see it as a benefit for the students, to the families and to the schools.”