Sometimes unpleasant choices have to be taken
Posted by Dana Pico on 2011/12/29
From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Philadelphia school nurse layoffs prompt ‘Occupy 440’ rally
By Kristen A. Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
Mary Ann Sewell doesn’t just dispense aspirin and Band-Aids.
Sewell, the school nurse at Bok High in South Philadelphia, tends to 187 asthmatic teenagers. She treats insulin-dependent diabetics, kids with cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, and seizure disorders.
As part of its latest round of budget cuts, the Philadelphia School District will lay off 141 employees, including 47 nurses, effective Saturday. Sewell and about 50 others gathered at district headquarters Wednesday to protest.
They called it “Occupy 440,” a nod to the district building’s North Broad Street address. The protest was not organized by Occupy Philadelphia, but some Occupy Philadelphia members joined the cause.
Much more at the link. The story continues to tell the readers just how significant cuts in services will be with the layoffs of 47 school nurses. But the Philadelphia School District expects a budget shortfall of $629 million, and officials said recently that another $39 million had to be cut. Total new layoffs would be 141, with 47 school nurses among them.
The School District did not want to make those cuts; virtually every position within the School District can be justified in some way, and all of those positions performed specific functions. But if the School District doesn’t have the money to pay for all of those positions, then it doesn’t have the money to pay for all of them, and cuts have to be made somewhere. The School Board and the District administrators exist to set the budget and take those hard decisions. If the 47 nurses who are to be laid off are suddenly retained, then something else — and some other people’s jobs — will have to be cut to make up for the cost to retaining the nurses.
As it happens, your editor is married to a registered nurse, and certainly believes in the value of nurses as medical professionals. But your editor also knows that registered nurses can always find jobs. Indeed.com, a job search website, lists 2,161 job openings for registered nurses in the Philadelphia area,¹ ² paying $40,000 or more a year; of that, 1,633 pay $60,000 or more a year, 481 pay more than $80,000, 157 pay $100,000+, and 73 pay $120,000 or more.³ The editor’s sympathies tend to be more with the other people laid off, who have poorer job prospects.4
¹ – Accessed at 0804 on Thursday, 29 December 2011; the numbers are subject to constant change.
² – If the nurses being laid off are licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, rather than RNs, there are fewer jobs available, but the same site still lists 449 positions paying over $30,000.
³ – the higher paying jobs are included in the lower paying totals.
4 – Like, perhaps, former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who after receiving an almost $1,000,000 severance package, half of which comes from district coffers, had to file for unemployment.
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