BPS school board

The Bremen School Board agreed to give permission to Superintendent Jim White to seek out consultation services regarding the details of a referendum that would be used to hire an additional nurse and a mental health therapist. From left are Todd Huff, Jesse Bohanon, school board president Brian Teall and White.

BREMEN -- The Bremen Public Schools board, upon evaluating the school’s administrative capacity to serve the student body, is looking into asking for a referendum that will pay for an additional nurse and a mental health therapist.

“We’re trying to do services that we lack here currently,” said Board President Brian Teall.

Of the two positions that the school wants to fill using the referendum money, the nursing position is vital.

“We could probably use two more nurses,” said Teall. “Realistically, most schools have one nurse per 500 students, and we have one nurse serving 1500. To me that’s an absolute need.”

However, Superintendent Jim White believes that a mental health therapist will also drastically improve the school’s ability to benefit the student body and, by extension, the community at large.

“Whether we’re catching [students] on mental health side or catching on the alternative side, there are kids that need extra help that we can’t give them that right now,” said White. “We could run through numbers to show, if we manage to save two kids a year, what that means long-term to the community and what would that mean to tax payers, but it’s not a direct anything that we’re measured by. I want us to go beyond compliance. I don’t want us to be, ‘Okay, you’re 12th grade, you’re graduated. See you later. Don’t care.’ I don’t think that’s who we are as an organization … I want to serve our students better.”

Teall agreed: “The more I talk to community members and talk to other people in other school districts, that, to me, is something we could use here.”

Board members Todd Huff and Jesse Bohannon, on the other hand, would like to be sure of the facts before bringing the issue before voters.

“I guess I have a fundamental concern overall on how do we measure success of the referendum?” Huff said. “I’m not talking about winning or losing the referendum. I’m talking about, if we hire these positions, how can we show the community that, in fact, this has pushed a bar? Fundamentally, when I think of an investment -- because I see this as an investment -- what’s the return?”

Both Huff and Bohannon acknowledged the school’s need for additional staff, however, and asked to continue discussions about what the long-term benefit would look like. 

Currently, the board is planning on firming up the details of the proposed referendum with the hopes of submitting it to voters for the spring primaries ballot. 

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