School Nurses and Out of Pocket Expenses

Updated on June 25, 2014
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
17 answers

Do the school nurses in your children's schools buy supplies with their own money? I have been a PTA treasurer in two schools and our budget routinely includes money ($200 - $300 depending on the school) to reimburse the school nurses for their out of pocket expenses. I always figured that the expenses were for things like stickers or office doo-dads or other items, similar to the expenses we reimburse teachers for some of their out of pocket expenses.

Well that's not the case...the nurses are buying medication like Tylenol (generic, of course), first aid supplies, saltines, etc. To me, those are essential supplies and I find it staggering that the school budget doesn't include supplying the nurses with the basics they need to do their jobs! They pick things up when they're out shopping and save their receipts for reimbursement...a little here and there really adds up to several hundreds of dollars in expenses for them (which we only partially covered).

I plan on raising this as an issue with the principal(s) and school department because I really don't think they should have to buy this themselves and my guess is that if we purchased from a supplier in bulk it would save money but I wanted to see if you know whether or not this is a common practice. Do you know if your school nurses buy some of their own supplies?


ETA: The schools I do PTA for allow nurses to administer analgesics (Tylenol, Advil) and Benadryl as needed. At the beginning of the year the health forms that we send back to school include a check box to agree (or not) with allowing your child to receive OTC medications as needed.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

The food items should come through the cafeteria. There is no need to pay retail for those items. They should have meds and first aid items absolutely provided for them too. As for stickers and things like you said, that could come out of their budget.

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answers from Tulsa on

That's pretty bad, but on the bright side you HAVE a school nurse. Our district has one nurse, and she travels between 7 different elementary schools. The office staff pretty much deal with band-aids and if a kid needs medicine and it's not that school's day for the nurse then the parents get called to bring it and administer it. It's sad how varied school resources are depending on state and even community.

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answers from San Francisco on

We don't even have a school nurse, the district has a nurse that visits each school like once a week for a few hours at a time (that's K-8, our high schools have nurses close to full time.) The school secretary takes care of sick/hurt kids in a little area behind a wall behind her desk. I have no idea who pays for supplies but I'll bet our PTA picks up at least part of the cost, just like yours.

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answers from Atlanta on

I may be cynical, however I'm sadly not surprised that nurses are buying their own supplies at public schools. After all, we hear regularly that teachers put out their own money to buy supplies for their classrooms, and those supplies are needed to accomplish the primary mission of a school, namely teaching. So it isn't much of a stretch for the nurses to buy their supplies. Just a thought... anyway, Kudos to you for working the PTA! Parent leaders are so important.

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answers from Chicago on

I suppose it depends on what the state says. In our area food products are donated, nurse is not allowed to distribute any medications including cough drops and while stickers are fun and motivational feel good items, those seem to be traditional out of pocket items. You have a good heart wanting to help like that, but I am wondering if nurses for schools, like teachers can deduct this from taxes.Anyone know?

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answers from Washington DC on

that's just nuts.

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answers from Dallas on

Wow, I'm just shocked that a school nurse would have to buy her own supplies. That should be budgeted in the expenses for the school; that is not right. That would be like the lunch ladies have to buy all the food for the kids, not right.
I have joined PTA, but I'll admit I don't usually go to the meetings or read the reports, I know shame on me.
I now will get more involved and find out, I sure hope our nurse lady doesn't have to buy supplies.

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answers from Chicago on

A friend of mine works for a family physician and they get more samples of medicines than they need sometimes. I would suggest finding out if any parents are doctors and if they had extra samples they could donate. Can't hurt to ask!

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answers from Wausau on

I was the PTO Treasurer and we routinely allocated raised funds for school and classroom supplies because there are simply no funds from the district/state. I have personally bought medical supplies for the school with my own money. :-/

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answers from Honolulu on

I am not surprised.
But it is hard to put blame only on the school itself of course because they are only a cog in the whole big wheel of things.

But so at my kids' school they have an annual fundraiser. Only 1 fundraiser. And with the money they supply each grade level with a "budget" and EACH department in the school gets a part of the monies. AND the money raised even supplies the school with a Music Teacher, Art Teacher, and PE Teacher etc.
Because if not, the school would not have these things,

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answers from Detroit on

We also do not have a school nurse. The school administrator administers only the medication that parents have given written consent for-and provided to the school. It's a shame-as the administrator is much to busy to include this task. Our schools do buy supplies such as band aids and gauze in bulk.
Good for you for advocating. Our school supply lists at the beginning of the year usually include many of the things teachers used to have to buy themselves-such as paper towel and play dough.

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answers from Austin on

I would be surprised if the nurse was actually buying medications..... most places do not allow the school nurse to give out medicine (even OTC) UNLESS the parent has brought the medicine to school, and signed a paper for their student to take it.

However, I can see the nurse having to buy bandaids, etc...... it is amazing how much supplies the nurse goes through, kids wanting out of class, so they say they need a band-aid, etc....

I would hope that the school would have a budget for that kind of thing, though..... it is cheaper to buy those through a supplier than at a local store. Most schools allow certain items to be purchased on a purchase order through approved vendors.

Our nurse routinely gives each teacher a little "kit" with bandaids, alcohol wipes, a glove or two, etc., to cut down on those out of class excursions, and free up the clinic time for the students that really need it. (I work in a middle school.)

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answers from Kansas City on

Our district also allows nurses to administer analgesics as needed, provided the parents have signed off on the form.

The PTO for our school is amazing. They give new teachers $200 to set up their classroom and existing teachers get $100 a year to freshen supplies, books, etc. The PTO also gives the nurse money for additional supplies that aren't covered by the district. (I think our nurse uses it to buy underwear and ice-packs.)

As parents, one thing you can do is send in clothes that your kids have outgrown. Our nurse uses them when a kiddo has an accident and many times, she never sees the clothes again. The nurse told me that she prefers pants with an elastic waist so that more kids can fit in them.

So, to answer your question, yes, our PTO does contribute to the nurse. And thank you for volunteering for your PTA. This organization does more for schools than people realize and as a teacher, I can't tell you how much we appreciate it!

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answers from Austin on

Is this a public school or a private school? In our district there is a very little budget and some supplies provided for each school, but there is not a nurse available 100% of the time that the schools are open. The nurses roam different schools at different times, different days. So many times, it is the Office people that end up being nurses.

Once they go through all of the provided supplies they can request more.

Our PTA's have funded, ear thermometers and the plastic tips.
An examination cot thing, and some other equipment that had worn out.

We also have had some Physicians as parents that have been happy to donate some supplies over the years. At some of the lower income schools, they have clinics that are part of a partnership with a local health care group. We are hoping when the University opens their new medical school here in Austin, we will be able to get them to help, the way we get so many student teachers through them and the other local universities and colleges.

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answers from Rochester on

The school nurses at the schools my kids went to also administered things like Tylenol, Advil and Benadryl (with parental permissions and a note from their doctor) but only if the parent brought the meds to school. The nurses did not buy/furnish them. First aid supplies should be included in the school budget, not the PTA. Stickers, suckers, juice boxes and other doo-dads can be paid for by the PTA.



answers from Detroit on

ha we don't even have a school nurse.. but if we did .. she would have to bring her own supplies..

we had a brutal winter here in Michigan.. and our pto had to buy a snowblower for the school.. as the snowblower the school had did not blow the snow..

our pto buys a lot of essential supplies..



answers from Miami on

To be honest, I don't know the answer with my schools, but I have to say that if the nurses weren't getting reimbursed, they'd be buying cheaper brands and buying in bulk, saving a lot of money.

Perhaps the school doesn't care because they expect the PTA to pay for it.

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