The Carroll County commissioners said Thursday that they support the idea of getting more school employees trained on how to administer an overdose-reversal drug, but they disagree with the school system’s proposal on how to do so.
The commissioners on Thursday rejected a request to cover the cost of training another 200 Carroll County Public Schools staff members outside of school hours, telling school system officials to go “back to the drawing board."
During the 2018-2019 academic year, health department staff trained 26 school nurses so that they could train others in how to administer Naloxone, which is used to reverse drug overdoses, potentially saving lives. In turn, the nurses trained 140 people — 76 school staff, 54 parents and 10 students — according to Filipa Gomes, supervisor of student services/health services for CCPS.
Every school nurse is trained to administer Naloxone, but not every nurse is certified to train others in how to use Naloxone, Carey Gaddis, communications officer for CCPS, said in an interview.
The state provided funding for this training the prior school year, Gomes said, but this year the state only provided training kits and did not cover the cost of training staff outside regular school hours.
In the interest of continuing the training, Gomes approached county Health Officer Ed Singer for suggestions.
In an effort to incentivize more staff to undergo this training, Singer requested the commissioners allocate about $10,000 to cover the cost of “essentially an hour of overtime” so 200 staff members could stay after school one hour for Naloxone training.
Gaddis specified in an interview the funding would not have covered overtime pay, but would have provided a stipend to staff who stayed after school for training.
The money would have come from the Not In Carroll fund, which serves to combat the opioid crisis. About $68,000 is left in the Not In Carroll fund for fiscal year 2019, according to Chris Winebrenner, communications manager for Carroll County.
While the commissioners said they support Naloxone training, they disagreed with the notion that the county should fund the stipend that school officials said would be necessary to train more people.
Although staff have not used Naloxone at school, Gomes said there was a time when a nurse thought a student was having a seizure but was actually experiencing an overdose.
Karl Streaker, director of student services, said in an interview that the student survived, but said he could not provide more details about the incident. Students’ health information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Gaddis said. When an overdose occurs, it is reported to the student’s family and the Carroll County Health Department, according to Streaker.
Streaker said in the interview he could not say how many overdoses have occurred because the number is so small it could potentially identify the students.
During the board meeting, Singer described the Naloxone training as a proactive measure that could save lives amid a growing opioid crisis that has taken many lives across the nation, state and county.
Streaker told the commissioners that Narcan — the brand name of the drug — is a new resource that staff are learning to use.
“It’s not something we’ve thought of before, because we didn’t have it,” he said.
Health Department prevention staff have found that more youth are struggling with opioid abuse, according to Singer, so it’s important to have people trained in case of an overdose.
“We are seeing trends that we’re seeing this more in our youth than we have before,” Singer said.
Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, asked how CCPS would ensure staff across the district are trained, so there is not a large of amount of trained staff in a few schools and no trained staff in others. Gomes replied they want to offer the training at every school and ensure all nurses know how to use Naloxone. Streaker added that if 200 people showed up for training at one school, CCPS would look for ways to train more people at other schools, too.
Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, expressed concern over using Not In Carroll money from the county to cover overtime.
“I just want to make sure that this is the most appropriate use for ten thousand-plus dollars because there are a lot of critical needs here and we’ve only got so much in that Not In Carroll funding,” Wantz said. “We didn’t put that money in there to pay salaries."
The fund is designed to pay for educational opportunities and programs, according to Wantz.
Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, suggested that the school district train staff during an in-service day. Gomes said the training would only take one hour. Streaker noted staff are already committed to instructional training during professional development, and that those days are often planned the summer before the school year begins.
“I would think this be looked upon as a priority,” Wantz responded.
Gomes noted a goal is to offer training to members of the community as well.
Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, suggested the school district promote opportunities for training at local fire companies to families and make time during an in-service day to train staff.
“I would look at those [rather] than spending this type of money towards it, because I think you can meet the requirements,” Rothstein said. “I definitely applaud looking into a method of the training, but I think there’s other options out there that can do the exact same thing.”
Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, asked Singer if he had in mind better uses of Not In Carroll resources, to which Singer replied that he didn’t.
In concluding the discussion, which did not lead to a vote, Wantz advised Singer, Gomes and Streaker to go “back to the drawing board.”