Somerset County Technology Center officials showed ingenuity Thursday when faced with a state mandate requiring that the center employ a school nurse.
The center plans to use one of its four registered nurses teaching in its adult education program to satisfy the requirement. Joint-operating committee members approved Heather Snyder for the position Thursday.
"It was really in the best interest of the school to resolve the issue in this manner," said Karen Remick, administrative director.
The move could save the school up to $20,000 — the estimated cost of hiring a school nurse.
Snyder and the center have agreed to wait until the end of the school year to determine compensation for the position. Snyder will continue to work as an instructor while taking on the additional responsibilities of a school nurse. The center's three other registered nurses were approved as health room assistants to assist Snyder when she is teaching class.
Because Snyder is an instructor with the adult education program, she is not a member of the center's teachers association and is not subject to union guidelines restricting hours worked.
"She's fine with the arrangement," Remick said. "We don't anticipate a lot of use out of the position."
The center plans to monitor the arrangement this year before deciding how to proceed in the future, Remick said.
"We've never had a school nurse before so we'll see how much responsibility it involves," she said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education will begin enforcing the policy this year requiring that technology centers carry a school nurse in the same way traditional public schools do.
The department also wants the center's entire teaching staff to be certified in first aid. In addition, center officials were informed that students can no longer administer their own medication. Students with diabetes will need to go to the nurse for their insulin shots and students with asthma will need to report their inhaler usage to the nurse as well. The change will be implemented this year.