School Committee Boosts Substitute Nurse Pay

by | Jan 23, 2020

Frenchtown School nurse Bonnie Brayton-Simmons speaks to the School Committee in December.

The School Committee voted Tuesday to increase the rate for substitute nurses from $150 to a day to $200, following the impassioned pleas of two of the district’s school nurses at the Dec. 3 School Committee meeting.

“We have to provide for the well-being of our students,” said Frenchtown nurse Bonnie Brayton-Simmons at the Dec. 3 meeting. “When we are not there, we are putting everyone at risk.”

Nurses have more to do these days, from helping the child who feels ill and tending to a scraped knee to dispensing medications and helping children who have conditions like diabetes. 

East Greenwich’s pay had been on the low end, with most cities and towns in the area paying $200 or $250 a day. That has made it harder to get someone to take a shift, Brayton-Simmons said.

“Trying to run from one building to another is not great,” she said.  

Ideally, she and Eldredge nurse Leslie Green said, you’d build up a list of a few substitutes who would get to know the schools and the students and feel a sense of loyalty to the district.

“We take this very seriously. We really worry when we don’t have someone we feel comfortable with in that role,” said Brayton-Simmons.

At the meeting Tuesday, interim Supt. Frank Pallotta said he’d consulted with Greg Booth, director of finance, administration and operations, about whether or not the district could raise the pay this year. The budget for substitute nurses for FY2019-20 is $10,000; the additional money needed would be approximately $3,500 through the end of the school year. 

The School Committee voted 5-0 (Lori McEwen and Jeff Dronzek were absent), with the stipulation that if spending on substitute nurses exceeded $13,500, Supt. Pallotta would come back to the School Committee for an additional appropriation.

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