Imagine Schools Won't Pay For School Nurse, Even After Student Has Seizure and Is Revived By Janitor
After Parent, Custodian Revive Student Who Had Seizure
|COLUMBUS – Even after learning that students attending a Columbus elementary school have serious medical conditions, officials from Imagine Schools are refusing to pay for a school nurse.The school – the Imagine-managed Columbus Primary Academy – has a lease that calls for the school to pay $700,000 annually to an Imagine subsidiary for rent and an additional $120,000 annually to provide things such as human resources administration, purchasing and marketing.
After initially telling a Columbus TV station that it would work to re-negotiate the lease, Imagine changed its mind. And when parents attended an Oct. 15 school board meeting to demand a nurse, the request fell on deaf ears.
“It’s clear that Imagine schools care too much about lining their pockets and too little about the kids they are supposed to educate and protect,’’ said ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis.
ProgressOhio released a video clip today of the school board meeting in which parents and other guardians tell of a student who had a seizure the previous week and was revived by a custodian, a parent volunteer, and another student who carries an EpiPen, a device used to treat serious allergic reactions. Some of Imagine’s top officials attended the meeting and blamed the school’s financial troubles on low enrollment.
Six weeks later, the school still has no nurse, and the State Board of Education is debating a plan to make it even easier for schools to not hire nurses.
The state school board has proposed the elimination of the so-called 5 of 8 rule that demands school districts hire five full-time teachers in eight areas, including music, art, physical education, library science, nursing and social work, for every 1,000 students.
Opponents of the proposal testified that nurses are especially important in spotting child abuse and neglect, and a 2010 study by the Ohio Department of Health showed that nearly 75 percent of Ohio schools report having at least one student who requires daily skilled nursing care and helping. Allergic reactions and seizures were among the most common ailments treated by a school nurse.
A recent ProgressOhio study showed that Imagine and a subsidiary, SchoolHouse Finance, collected at least $14.4 million in public money last year for their 17 Ohio schools. More than half — $8.9 million – covered rent for long-term leases to SchoolHouse Finance. The $5.5 million balance went to pay “indirect costs” to Imagine to provide certain management services.
The arrangements leave little money for classroom instruction. And it shows. All but one of Imagine-managed Ohio school received a D or F on the Performance Index of the recent state report card. The lone C went to the Imagine Groveport Community School.
More troubling than the poor academic records, Theis said, has been the silence of Gov. John Kasich.
“The election is over, so Gov. Kasich can come out of his bunker and tell us his plans for these failing charter schools,’’ Theis said. “The governor markets himself as a fiscal conservative. It’s time for him to tell us his plans to safeguard our kids and our wallets.’’