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Halloran blasts city’s cuts to school nurses

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) joined concerned parents at Whitestone’s Holy Trinity School this week to criticize city cuts to private schools that would require the institutions to pay to keep nurses on their staffs.

By law, parochial schools are required to have nurses for their students. When the requirement became law, the city covered the costs for nurses at private elementary schools with fewer than 300 students.

But Halloran said the schools would be forced to absorb costs to keep them on their staffs amid the city’s education budget cuts.

“In this diocese, there have been 27 schools that have closed in five years,” Halloran said. “The city consistently allows the Department of Education to overspend where they didn’t need to. The straw that breaks the camel’s back is that these schools cannot afford another person on salary.”

Schools in Halloran’s district that are affected by the cuts include Holy Trinity, Little Neck’s St. Anastasia School, Whitestone’s Lowell School, Whitestone School, Bayside Lutheran School, Bayside’s Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School and the Lutheran School of Flushing and Bayside.

Additional schools are Flushing’s Full Gospel Christian School and The Shield Institute as well as College Point’s St. Fidelis Elementary School, St. John’s Lutheran School and St. Paul’s Episcopal School.

Eleanor Menna, principal of Holy Trinity, said it was urgent for the school to have a nurse.

“A school nurse is mandatory,” she said. “We have kids with asthma, severe allergies and injuries.”

Parent Eva Keating said her son, Charlie, had to miss school for 45 days last year due to asthma. She is concerned about the school’s ability to provide aid to children if the school is struggling to pay for a nurse.

“We need to make sure we have nurses there to take care of our kids every day,” she said. “There are a lot of kids in the school who have asthma. If you look in the nurse’s office, you’ll see it’s packed with medicine.”

Halloran said the cuts are a “classic piece of budgetary bait and switch.”

“These schools do more than educate our youth,” he said. “They instill values and faith and a commitment to the local community. This money will drain resources from the classroom and potentially force teacher layoffs on top of the already serious cuts required in these tough fiscal times.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced earlier this month that 11,000 city jobs are proposed to be cut in this year’s city budget, including 6,400 teaching positions.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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