DES MOINES, Iowa — Emotions reached fever pitch Tuesday morning at the Iowa State Capitol. “My intention is to pass this bill today, as is,” said Republican State Sen. Amy Sinclair. A Senate study bill would remove the requirement school districts have to employ a school nurse. “If passed, it would be detrimental to the health of Iowa children,” said Democrat Sen. Claire Celsi.
It received a passing grade from the education subcommittee with support from Sinclair and Republcan Sen. Jerry Behn. The lone “no” vote came from Democrat Sen. Herman Quirmbach. “Currently one of the fastest growing sections of spending in education is in administration, and I think this bill seeks to help that,” said Behn.
Celsi sat in on the meeting and says a district with no school nurse may save dollars but at what cost? She said, “School nurses are very important in helping kids on chronic medications get their correct doses.”
Supporters believe it puts power back in the hands of the school districts on how they should spend their funding. “This allows them to make the best decision possible for the children and families that they serve,” said Sinclair.
It would also lift a school district’s requirement to provide annual screenings such as dental, vision and blood lead levels, putting that responsibility on the parents. Behn said, “The biggest factor in how a child does in school is involvement of the parents. One of the things this bill requires is parents do the stuff they are supposed to do before the kid comes to school.”
The bill also proposes eliminating the requirement for a district certified librarian. This is leading opponents of the bill to question Iowa’s priorities on education. Celsi said, “If we are really investing in our schools, why are we allowing school boards to potentially get rid of these things that are beneficial for our kids?”
The Senate study bill now goes to the full education committee for a vote.