Village Board Cuts Funding for Nurse at Catholic Schools

Whitefish Bay trustees vote 5-2 to ax $8,000 for a health aide at St. Monica and Holy Family Parish schools.

Whitefish Bay trustees cut $8,000 from next year's budget for a part-time health aide at and , with most trustees saying municipal money should not be used to help fund private Catholic schools.

The conversation arose on the same day that a second case of whooping cough was confirmed at St. Monica School, according to Jackie Turkal, the village's School Health Coordinator. The just more than a week ago. Turkal said no cases of whooping cough have been confirmed at Whitefish Bay public schools.

When asked whether the whooping cough would have been identified without the health aide, Turkal said it would have. The parents notified the school of their child's diagnosis, and then the school notified the Health Department, Turkal said.

"The every day stuff of kids being sick and falling down is handled by the health aide, when she's there. If she's not, it's handled by the volunteer or the secretary," she said.

Village Manager Patrick DeGrave first identified the cost as a potential savings during the start of the village's budget process in October. Officials from both schools said the village has historically provided that funding, and more than 80 percent of the 350 families at the two schools live in Whitefish Bay.

In an e-mail conversation between DeGrave and St. Monica School Principal Julie Ann Robinson that was distributed to trustees, Robinson said the school has not budgeted for the health aide, who works 12 hours per week.

"Asking the village to come up with less than $8,000 to cover the cost of a health nurse in our two schools is insignificant within the bigger picture of what this cost could be if no private schools existed in Whitefish Bay," Robinson said.

Because the schools have not budgeted for the health aide this year, the trustees who opposed funding the position agreed to keep the money in this year's budget but drop it next year.

"I think we should not cut (the funding) in midstream of the school year," Trustee Jay Miller said.

The board voted 5-2 to make the cut next year, with trustees James Roemer and Richard Foster voting to retain the funding.

"Our village is attractive because of the safety and the family friendliness," Roemer said. "I think the decision to discontinue funding sends the wrong message to our residents."

Resident Steve Borenstein said he opposed public funding for private schools on the principle of fairness.

"It is really not the function of a village to be supporting a health aide in a private institution," he said. "I don't think the amount of money matters, but what I would worry about is the amount of money could grow."

Future village boards could decide to restore the funding, said Village Attorney Chris Jaekels.

This article was updated at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday.

David Tatarowicz December 20, 2011 at 10:01 PM
What particularly galls me is that when you call the police, they come and your taxes have paid for it. But when you call the fire dept for a medical emergency -- you get a bill despite the taxes you are paying !! If you talk to anybody in medical geriatrics or hospital ER's you can find many stories of heart attack victims who die on the way to the hospital in a private car, because they can no longer afford to call 911 for a heart attack --- or other serious recurring problem.
Jay Sykes December 20, 2011 at 10:16 PM
No, but if you live in the Nicolet(or its feeders) district, the amount of money that is that is collected to fund the bus service is refunded(by state statute) to the student to fund their transportation. The health nurse function is a community wide service, and not specificity an 'education function', very much like the transportation function. As such,the health nurse function should be funded following a methodology similar to transportation.
Jay Sykes December 21, 2011 at 01:15 AM
You owe our friends,the federal government, a big thank-you, David.
Jennifer Fails December 31, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Just a reminder 80% of the kids that go to St. Monica are Whitefish Bay residents so we pay taxes and we should get the benefit of helping to keep our kids healthy. The nurses aid has been working between the two schools for 20 plus years and she is an asset to the kids and to our community.
Bob McBride December 31, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Based on figures I found, combined enrollment for the two schools is approximately 750. 8K divided by 750 is a little under 11 bucks per student per year. You can afford that. There's no practical or logical reason why the Village should continue to subsidize this service at the same time we're asking public schools to cut back.


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