Substitute nurses in the Bourne school district have had their pay nearly doubled.
At last night’s school committee meeting, board members unanimously approved a plan to increase the pay for substitute nurses to $150 a day, up from $80. The raise, which is the first for substitute nurses in nine years, was made effective immediately.
Director of Student Services Christina M. Stuart went before the board to ask for the increase. Ms. Stuart told the committee that she had gathered data on 150 school districts across Massachusetts, and at $80 a day, the town of Bourne was at the lower end of the pay scale. She told the board that the average was $115 a day, with the minimum being $65 a day and the maximum $253 per day.
“I do think that it’s time for us to revisit what we are paying for nurse substitutes,” she said. She said that the school district has had “a significantly difficult time obtaining substitutes.”
“Right now, it’s out of loyalty, being a part of Bourne, that people are doing it,” Ms. Stuart said of the primary reason substitute nurses have continued to work for low pay.
Ms. Stuart said that the pool of substitute nurses has been dwindling with many going to other school districts. She said that the number of available substitute nurses had been as high as eight, but this past year it had gone down to just two. Of that two, one was only able to work two days a week.
She said that having just one substitute available on a day when two or more nurses are not working would require that the substitute move from one building to another.
“That’s a concern,” she said.
Ms. Stuart asked that the school committee increase the pay for substitute nurses to $115 a day.
Superintendent of Schools Steven M. Lamarche then surprised Ms. Stuart by recommending that the board increase the pay to $150 a day, telling the members that “we are seeing more and more students with more and more needs and requirements.”
“I think it’s money well spent for the care and safety of our students,” he said.
School committee member Christopher J. Hyldburg asked if increasing the substitute nurses’ pay would lead other substitutes, specifically substitute teachers, to look for a commensurate increase in their daily pay.
Mr. Lamarche said that the issue before the board was a “needs-based request” to deal with a pool of substitute nurses that was “slim to none.” There is no need to increase pay for substitute teachers, however an evaluation of substitute teacher pay should be done by the committee, he said.
“I think that if we can establish a pool at $150 of nurses that know us, know our district and in some cases know the children, I think that would be valuable,” Mr. Hyldburg said.