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Special meeting to focus on Burbank school nurse staffing

Head nurse to speak on need for certificated nurses in the district where six serve 15,200 students.

April 08, 2014|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com
  • Burbank Unified School District lead nurse Lenora Aguilera works on paperwork as she tends to sick students at Burroughs High School in Burbank on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Aguilera will see from 40 to more than 100 students a day for various illnesses at various district schools, and plans to request additional nursing staff for the district.
Burbank Unified School District lead nurse Lenora Aguilera… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

The staffing of nurses in Burbank Unified is expected to be discussed during a special school board meeting on Friday and the district’s head nurse plans to tell board members that additional nursing staff is needed.

There are currently six certificated nurses who divide their time among the district’s nearly 20 campuses and 15,200 students.

That equates to one nurse for about 2,500 students, more than three times the ratio recommended by the National Assn. of School Nurses, which suggests one school nurse for every 750 students.

Lenora Aguilera, Burbank Unified’s head nurse, said the demand for additional certificated nurses comes at a time when more Burbank students have chronic health conditions and the number of students that nurses serve every day keeps climbing.

The number of local students seeking assistance from a school nurse ranges from 40 to more than 100 daily, Aguilera said.

The six school nurses often refer students to outside health-service providers and consult with teachers, parents and counselors to assess if a student’s health problem is tied to poor attendance or if the student is encountering problems at school or at home.

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On a recent day, Aguilera said she was helping a student as eight to 10 more waited in line to see her. When her phone began ringing and a fellow school employee knocked on the door, the student asked Aguilera, “‘Is this how this is every day?’”

“Everybody’s trying the best they can with what they have,” Aguilera said. “The time has come where they need to do something... At the end of the day, we go home bearing the weight of everything we see that day and realizing all the needs.”

She said she is glad the discussion was put on this week’s agenda.

“I’m hoping that this is a reflection on this administration seeing there is a need,” she said.

Over the past several years, the school district has weathered $100 million in budget cuts, mostly in response to state-level education reductions. As the district eyes additional funding over the next few years, it is poised to only see its revenue restored to the level it received in 2007-08.

That year, there was at least one more certificated nurse working in the district, school board member Larry Applebaum recalled.

He supports adding an additional nurse and acknowledged they are “stretched very thin,” he said.

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