Bill would require a nurse at every public school in New Mexico

Politics - Government

A push to put a full-time nurse in every public school in the state was a hot topic in the Roundhouse on Monday. 

If the bill gets passed, districts would have to fill hundreds of nursing positions. Supporters of the bill say this is a basic necessity in schools and say many schools are sharing nurses right now. 

“We’re floating them around schools and to me, that’s unacceptable…the standard, and I know, we have a responsibility to these young people,” Rep. Willie Madrid, D-Chaparral, said. 

House Bill 476 would require a full-time registered school nurse to be in every public schoolโ€”that includes charters. The proposal does not fund the extra staffing, so the school districts and charter schools would have to foot the bill. 

In a House Education Committee meeting Monday morning, members of both parties praised the bill’s intentions but had concerns about the cost. 

“What I’m hearing from my districts, the way that they’re looking at the budget, they feel they’re six percent short on the current needs just in House Bill 5 based on their current funding,” Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, said. 

According to the bill’s fiscal review, a full-time registered nurse makes over $46,000 a year on average, and that’s without benefits. The cost to fill the 305 empty nursing spots would be $14 million. Schools with fewer than 250 students would not be required to have a full-time nurse. 

The bill barely passed with a 6-4 vote. It now moves onto the House Health and Human Services Committee. 

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