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Should school nurses be paid like teachers? (DS)

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It’s a question that will come up on Wednesday morning in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee hearing.

Rep. Sue Allen, R-St. Louis, will present H.B. 456, which would require school districts to pay registered school nurses on the same pay scale as teachers, as long as they have similar work history and hours.

Freshman legislator Allen, who also used to be a physical therapist, believes nurses should be paid more because of their ability to respond to complex medical conditions and emergencies.

“If you have a child with a tracheotomy, would you call a cook or a janitor to help care for them?” Allen said.

Currently, the 10-step salary scale for Springfield’s school nurses begins at $28,167 and tops out at $39,591 — with increases at each step for degrees and certifications.

The teacher schedule has 30 steps and more range, depending on degrees obtained.

The base salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $32,920, contrasting with the $62,040 that a teacher with a doctorate could earn on the 30th step.

For the record, Springfield superintendent Norm Ridder doesn’t like the bill because he feels it would take money from the classroom and put in the nurse’s office.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate because the expectations are so different for teachers and nurses,” Ridder said, adding a more fair salary comparison would be school nurses to hospital or clinic nurses — not teachers.

What do you think?