Leaders from state, education, and the healthcare industry announced the addition of $1.3 million to funding for the Buffalo Public Schools’ health related programs, Thursday morning.
Standing on the steps of East High School, Democratic Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes of the 141st District said the lack of support for health related programs such as in-school nursing and wellness policies became an issue nine years ago. She said she was moved to action when a City Honors student had an asthma attack and could not be helped in her own school.
“Her classmates literally picked her up and rushed her off to the nurse’s office, and it was closed,” recalled Peoples-Stokes. “Now thankfully, City Honors is located in the medical corridor, so they didn’t have far to get to the hospital. But the fact of the matter is that would not happen in any other school in New York State, because there was always a nurse in every school, except in the City of Buffalo.”
Peoples-Stokes said the problem was fixed, but the new funding will add value to the program.
Amy Juzdowski has been the school nurse at East High School for almost a decade, and said just making sure there is a nurse on call is the biggest challenge in city schools.
“Nurses get sick like everybody else,” Juzdowski said. “They get hurt, and that is our biggest problems, is having enough nurses to cover the schools.”
72 nurses are currently employed to serve more than 30,000 students in 57 buildings across the city’s public schools. The additional funding is intended to add 10 more by September.
At East High School, Juzdowski said her most prominent cases deal with diabetes, pregnancy, and a high rate of sexually transmitted diseases. She even works with an STD clinic to provide testing and treatment in the school.
Juzdowski said there is no shortage of students who seek out her services and, across the city, the added funding will help add reinforcements for nurses like her.
The money will also help with health education. Jessica Bauer-Walker, Chair of the District Parent Coordinating Council’s Health Committee, noted that there is a direct correlation between good health and successful learning. She said children who arrive to school sick, hungry, physically inactive, and some even with mental health issues, cannot learn.
“If we have healthier schools and healthier students, healthier communities, we’re not only going to see better health indicators, we’re going to see better academic outputs as well,” said Bauer-Walker.
The money will continue to support the district’s wellness policies for healthy food in schools, and provide classes on nutrition and healthy living.