Flint, MI—A pilot program aiming to address the shortage of school nurses in Genesee County has received $1 million in federal funds, officials announced.

At a Monday Feb. 13, 2023 press conference, Congressman Dan Kildee said he helped secure the funding for the pilot, which is led by Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD). The dollars come from Community Project Funding within the federal government’s 2022 appropriations legislation.

“The connection between health and general wellbeing is obvious, but particularly important to young people who are trying to find their trajectory and their path forward,” Kildee said. “That’s where the pilot program comes in by ensuring that school-based health services are available.” 

Congressman Dan Kildee speaks about a school nursing pilot program at the Genesee Intermediate School District during a press conference at the Erwin L. Davis Education Center in Flint, Mich. on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

Dr. Steven Tunnicliff, GISD superintendent, noted that the funding will provide support for the pilot program, which launched in fall 2022, through 2027.

One objective of the program is to add at least eight school nurses at Genesee County’s public schools by 2027, he said, and retain those nurses over the long-term.

“We need more school nurses across Genesee County. No doubt about it,” Tunnicliff told Flint Beat.

Overall, there are 21 public school districts and 14 public school academies in Genesee County.

Eddie Kindle, GISD’s associate superintendent, shared a list of the county’s public school districts and public academies that have school nurses for the 2022 to 2023 academic year. Those districts and academies are:

Atherton Community Schools
Beecher Community School District
Bendle Public Schools
Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools
Davison Community Schools
Flint Community Schools
Flushing Community Schools
Grand Blanc Community Schools
International Academy of Flint
Kearsley Community Schools
Lake Fenton Community Schools
LakeVille Community Schools
Mt. Morris Consolidated Schools
Powers Catholic High School
Richfield Public School Academy
Westwood Heights Schools

Along with the list, Kindle noted the number of nurses “changes from time to time because of hiring” and individual districts and academies may have more up-to-date information.

Ultimately, Rhonda Tata, coordinator of health services at GISD, said the goal is to have a nurse in all schools across the county.

While there’s a long way to go with achieving that vision, Tunnicliff added, the county has made progress with expanding nursing services over the last few years.

“The support that we’ve had from the state level, obviously through the water crisis, has helped to increase the number of nurses, particularly in Flint Community Schools,” he said during the press conference.

Dr. Steven Tunnicliff, superintendent of the Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD), speaks about a school nursing pilot program at GISD during a press conference at the Erwin L. Davis Education Center in Flint, Mich. on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

Another one of the pilot program’s goals is to develop a “professional learning community” among school nurses, improving students’ health both within school districts and county-wide, Tunnicliff said.

“We’re working on a model … where we can use other funding sources to sustain this work and again, ensure that not only do we have more nurses, but we’re working more collaboratively and we’re leveraging resources to the betterment of the students in our community,” he told reporters.

Tata added that the role of school nurses includes emergency care, chronic disease management, care coordination and health education.

“To optimize school health, safety, and learning, it’s important to have a school nurse in every school, every day, all day,” she said. 

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...