Iowa bill would scale back school nurse requirement, explore teacher health training

Posted at 11:40 AM, Mar 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-14 12:40:28-04

New legislation was advanced by a Senate subcommittee on Monday that would eliminate a goal for school districts to employ one nurse for every 750 students and directs the state Department of Education to reevaluate what health care-related training school staff should be required to complete.

Senate File 390 is a wide-ranging bill that additionally would adjust some requirements for school districts’ bond referendums and background checks. It was recommended Monday by a Senate Ways and Means subcommittee after receiving support from the Education Committee last month.

The bill would erase a provision in Iowa that “each school district shall work toward the goal” of employing a nurse for every 750 students enrolled in the district and instead require districts to have at least one nurse.

It also directs the Department of Education to form a group to “review and develop a plan to ensure Iowa educators have the health care training necessary to perform their duties and responsibilities.” The department is required to submit a report of that group’s recommendations to lawmakers by the end of this year.

The bill would also:

— Allow school districts to charge employees for the costs associated with their background checks, which are done at least every five years and include reviews of sex offender, child abuse and dependent adult abuse registries.

— Eliminate a requirement for districts to publish notices of bond referendums in newspapers if they prefer an electronic publication that often features such notices.

“If we’re really in favor of openness and transparency and the public knowing what’s going on, the publication requirements should be ‘and’ not ‘or’ — publish them electronically and publish them in the local newspaper,” said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames.

Another bill in the Senate that was approved by a committee last week would eliminate other requirements for public agencies to publish notices in newspapers.

“I would think that something online would be far more accessible than something that’s buried in a newspaper in a tiny font,” said Sen. Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire.

The bill considered Monday also eliminates a requirement for area education agencies to publish notice of public hearings for their proposed budgets in newspapers.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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