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Contract for school nurses about to expire without new agreement

WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond.

Buffalo Public Schools are rushing to extend the Kaleida Health contract that provides nurses for all regular public, private, parochial and charter schools. WBFO's Mike Desmond reports.

The school district's contract with the health provided expired at the end of this past June, but an extension was granted.

The Buffalo Public School District tells WBFO, during that time, a Request for Proposal was issued. The District said staff has continued to work through the RFP process and "discussions were held with Kaleida Health after retaining their services under the existing contract as part of the extension."

The issue surfaced at Wednesday night's school board session. 

Eric Rosser, Associate Superintendent for Student Support Services, said he met with Kaleida officials on Monday and asked for an extension of the contract. He explained the nurses are not school employees.

"They're paid through Kaleida, through our contract with Kaleida," Rosser stated.  "So they are employees of Kaleida and then we contract out with the services so they are not Buffalo Public School nurses, per se, they are Kaleida nurses and the Buffalo Public Schools contract out with Kaleida to provide nursing services to our children, as well as students within private, parochial and charter schools."

Highgate Heights nurse India Walton said she is the person who monitors the health of the people in the building.
"For a lot of them, I am the first line of defense. I do lots of referrals, lots of collaborative work, lots of help with getting basic, essential service, primary care, immunizations, eyeglasses, dental care, things like that," Walton said.

Walton said she gets asked health questions not only by students, but by staff in the building.

"I definitely think that me being a person of color, I have a better rapport," Walton explained. "I think the fact that I'm of this community and my children also attend Buffalo public schools, gives me a lot of credibility in the building and lets me relate to the family because we're the same."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.