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Hall schools will keep nurses, resource officers
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Nurses and school resource officers will remain in the infirmaries and hallways of Hall County schools next school year.

Hall County schools Superintendent Will Schofield said the school board has devised a plan to keep resource officers in all Hall County middle and high schools and expand nursing services to all district schools. Schofield said the plan will save the system a total of about $290,000 on the two service programs.

Some Hall County high schools have not maintained a nurse this school year but will have a nurse at the school at least part time in the 2009-10 school year.

Earlier this year as state education cuts remained hazy, it was unclear whether the Hall County school board would be able to employ school nurses and Hall County sheriff’s deputies as resource officers.

Schofield said the school system will spend $160,000 less on the 12-deputy resource officer program in fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1, than it did this fiscal year. He said the "bare bones" plan made cuts in deputy overtime and sheriff’s office administration related to the program.

To save $130,000 in the 31-nurse program, Schofield said the school board is cutting nurses’ work days from seven hours a day to six-and-a-half a day, which puts nurses in school only when students are present. He said cuts for fiscal year 2010 will save 15 percent of local funding for the nursing program compared to this fiscal year.

Two "cluster nurses" who train school nurses also will serve as school nurses next year, he said.

While the school resource officer and nursing programs were spared for next school year, middle school graduation coaches were not.

Schofield said the board has already cut next fiscal year’s budget down to $211.5 million and is trying to cut another $3 million to $5 million before finalizing next year’s budget before June 30.

He said the board has a $218 million budget for this fiscal year, but aims to end up 2 percent under budget. That spending plan should leave the school system with a roughly $4 million to $6 million surplus at the end of fiscal year 2009.

Schofield said the board is able to support high school graduation coaches, but he’s having a hard time recommending that the board keep middle school graduation coaches. He said without state funds to support a greater portion of the coaching program, it’s high schools that may need the services most.

"If you’re going to have graduation coaches, you’re going to have to pay for them locally," Schofield said.

The board also approved Monday to pay a moving company $57,000 to relocate furniture for three South Hall schools this summer. The move will save nearly $1 million on start-up costs associated with opening the new high school off Spout Springs Road.

The board honored 81 system retirees Monday evening. Many more longtime system employees retired this year than the board had expected just a few months ago.

And Hall County school board members Nath Morris and Brian Sloan are spearheading a committee to promote character and good sportsmanship conduct in Hall County school athletic programs. The board members said they would like to partner with the Gainesville school board in promoting the program.

"We had some incidents happen this year where we need to address sportsmanship," Morris said.

Sloan said while everyone likes to win, it’s the character kids develop in playing middle and high school sports that lasts 20 years from now.

"We want to work with our coaches, our parents and athletic directors to develop that character piece," he said.

The board members said they hope to have the committee in place by next school year.