Decision near on asking Lafayette voters to approve new taxes to pay for new schools, system improvements _lowres

Advocate file photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent Don Aguillard discussed his plans for the upcoming school year during a May 21 interview in his office.

The health and wellness services the Lafayette Parish school system has been providing to students will continue, even though the department originally created to deliver them is being dismantled, Superintendent Don Aguillard says.

In a reorganization, Aguillard eliminated the positions of health and wellness director and mental health services supervisor that oversaw the health and wellness department former superintendent Pat Cooper created in 2012.

The health and wellness model implemented by Cooper called for teams to assist students with major physical health or behavioral issues that affected their performance in school. The team could include a social worker, counselor, teacher, school-based administrator and a health and wellness department staff member who would also meet with the child’s parents to work on ways to help the student.

Aguillard said those same core services will continue.

“Since we no longer have a health and wellness department, we’re going to revert back to what organizationally had been there before the creation of that department — coordinated school health. There will still be a team model at the schools,” Aguillard said in a telephone interview this week.

On Wednesday, he issued a statement explaining the coordinated school health model “will be more focused on site-based services, not requiring as many district-level administrative positions.”

Aguillard said seven of the 30 social workers who had been assigned to the former health and wellness department will be shifted to pupil appraisal services in the special education department. Two others will be based at the Moss Preparatory School, which houses those students removed from their home campuses for behavioral reasons, and one social worker will be based at the Carencro Middle School-Based Health Center. The remaining 16 social workers will be overseen by the child welfare and attendance supervisor, Steve Fruge, Aguillard added.

Four social worker positions were eliminated in this year’s budget process. School nurses also will be shifted to the child welfare and attendance department, though under the supervision of Sharon Richard, nursing supervisor.

Aguillard said the eight components of the coordinated school health model include: direct health services for students; counseling, psychological and social services; nutrition services; physical education; health education; a healthy and safe school environment; healthy promotion for staff; and family and community involvement.

Aguillard said the school system will continue to provide quality services to students despite the reduction in staff.

Some students in the parish have access to physicians and social workers at school-based health centers. There are two such centers — one at Northside High operated by Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center and the other at Carencro Middle, which is operated by the school system in partnership with Lafayette General Health.

With support from Lafayette General’s foundation, the school system was able to expand its school-based health services in the Carencro area to nearby Ossun Elementary last year via telemedicine, Aguillard said.

The telemedicine model uses Bluetooth-enabled medical equipment, specialized software and Web cameras that enable the physician at Carencro Middle to “see” ill students at Ossun with the assistance of a school nurse.

Plans are moving forward to expand the telemedicine concept to other Carencro-area schools: Carencro High, Carencro Heights Elementary and Live Oak Elementary, Aguillard said, in partnership with Lafayette General Health.

The equipment needed for the expansion project is in place at the schools, Cian Robinson, Lafayette General Health Foundation director, said in an email response.

“We now have the entire Carencro ‘system’ covered with telemedicine,” Robinson said.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.