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WCBOE looks to improve healthcare at six local schools

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By PATRICK HALL, The Wilson Post
Wilson County Board of Education took steps to improve healthcare at local schools by entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Medical and Education Group bringing a $500,000 grant to six local schools.

The school board took the action at Mondays regular meeting.

The boards vote was unanimous to enter into the agreement with the non-profit organization known as MEG, which is headed by Dr. Robert Bone, which will utilize the $500,000 grant to update existing medical equipment in local schools as well as bring noticeable technology improvements.

The schools where the money will be used are Watertown Elementary School, Watertown High School, Tuckers Crossroads Elementary, Carroll Oakland Elementary, Southside Elementary and Lebanon High School.

Its allocated to be used at the most deserving county schools, Bone said.

Director of Schools Mike Davis pointed out the grant required that schools utilizing the money be rural schools and he added that all six of the beneficiary schools fit that description.

The non-profit established by Bone was one of 278 grant recipients through the Affordable Care Act School-Based Health Centers Capital Program earlier this year. Bone visited the school board several months ago to inform them the organization had received the grant.

Bone said the money will be used to upgrade the school nurses existing equipment such as stethoscopes, examination tables, thermometers and blood pressure cups. He also said the money will bring new technology to these schools such as electronic medical records and telemedicine, which uses video and photography equipment to allow a doctor diagnose a student without the child having to go to the doctors office.

Theres a great opportunity to improve the healthcare to our students, Bone said. He added the nurses are doing a great job and said this will add a few bells and whistles to school clinics.

We hope this is something that can be sustained for some time, Davis said.

The money was awarded to MEG on July 1 this year and extends through June 30, 2013. Chuck Whitlock, Wilson County Schools health coordinator, said the hard work is just beginning as they prepare to implement the new technology and train their nurses on using the new equipment.

Also during the meeting, the board deferred an agreement with the Clinch-Powell Education Cooperative that Davis said would help in the bidding process for purchasing items, but Bill Robinson, Zone 2 board member, said he had reservations about the group.

I would prefer that we defer this until we see some examples of how this would benefit us, Robinson said.

He noted he wanted to get information on how the organization conducts business and said if the agreement wouldnt benefit the board he didnt see the point in entering a partnership with the cooperative.

Davis said the cooperative will enhance the number of vendors the school receives bids for when looking to purchase equipment or supplies. He said if the board partners with the group, they could choose to use the cooperatives resources or not.

Its not doing away with the bid process, its actually enhancing the process, Davis said.

Don Weathers, Zone 3 board member, suggested sending the cooperative the boards bid specifications and asking the cooperative to bid at least 12 items the board commonly purchases. If the cooperative provides that information, the board will reconsider the agreement during next months meeting.

The board also voted unanimously to name the new Lebanon High School football stadium after former LHS standout Danny Watkins, who was an All District and All Mid-State tailback and linebacker during his senior season in 1972. For more on this story, see Sports on page 11 in the Wednesday, Nov. 9 print edition of The Wilson Post.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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