District addresses nurse shortage

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Brandy Kachelmeyer, a Fredonia resident, parent, addressed the Fredonia Board of Education regarding school nurses in a plea for action. Kachelmeyer has since been hired by the District as a Registered Nurse, effective May 20.

After two months of working on an issue that residents called “embarrassing” and called on the District to “do better” to address, the nursing shortage at the Fredonia Central School District has been mitigated.

One of the recent hires, Brandy Kachelmeyer, was among several speakers to address the Board of Education at a meeting shortly after school was canceled due to a lack of nurses. Kachelmeyer, a former School Nurse at Fredonia, was recently hired back by the District as a Registered Nurse, effective May 20.

The District also hired Bonita Costello as a Registered Nurse, effective May 24. Two substitute nurses were also hired: Karlene Korzenski and Nicole Siracuse. Fredonia now has a nurse in all four offices within the District.

“We are excited to be fully staffed in our nursing department,” Superintendent Dr. Brad Zilliox said. “… We’re moving forward in a positive direction.”

The additions come after the District previously hired a School Nurse Assistant, Megan Narraway, to assist the District’s health offices with clerical duties to ease the burden on the District’s current staff. Brigitte Hirschman was also recently hired as a per diem School Nurse Assistant, while Steve Cobb, Nichole Dispense, and Hannah Gullo were also hired as substitute School Nurses.

Zilliox previously stated that School Nurses Cashel Mulkins and Courtney Emke “have really gone above and beyond” in the weeks of the nursing shortage. The District also recently re-classified one of its positions to recognize Emke as a Licensed Practical Nurse.

Zilliox emphasized the District’s excitement for an “opportunity for a fresh start and a new beginning as a group” with the new additions to the staff.

Part of the reason the District struggled with a nursing shortage in the first place was due to low wages throughout many positions in the District. The Board of Education recently approved rate increases for several positions, including an increase for substitute Registered Nurses from $17.50 per hour to $24 per hour. Substitute Licensed Practical Nurses will receive $19 per hour, and substitute School Nurse Assistants will receive $16 per hour.

The District also improved the substitute rates for several other positions. Daily rates for both certified and uncertified teachers and licensed staff have all increased $20 per day. Tier 1 certified staff members now receive a daily rate of $135, while uncertified Tier 1 staff members receive $125 per day. Certified retired teachers now receive $145 per day. Teaching assistants have been revised from daily rates to hourly rates, varying between $15.10 to $15.35 per hour, depending on qualifications.


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