Grand Island Public Schools is moving forward with a new one-on-one nursing services provider for students.

At its meeting Thursday night, the GIPS Board of Education voted 8-0, with board member Carlos Barcenas absent, to approve a contract with Maxim Healthcare Services. It replaces the contract with Craig Home Care. The approximate cost of the contract is $35,000 a year, and will be funded with special education funds.

“We have students in the district who require full-time nurses. It is difficult to staff because a student might be out for a few months and cannot come to school. So we, as a district, have not hired that nurse,” said GIPS Associate Superintendent Robin Dexter. “We had difficulty this year and in years past with finding nurses and would have to pull a nurse from the school to come be with one student one-on-one.”

She added with Starr and Stolley Park elementary schools coming together the past few years, the two nurses were able to alternate duties to be with a student one-on-one as needed.

Dexter said Maxim Healthcare is based out of Omaha, but has offices in Lincoln. Board member Terry Brown asked about whether Maxim has served other school districts in the state. Dexter said it serves districts in Lincoln and Omaha.

“They are educationally-focused, so they train nurses to work in an educational setting, provide us some more benefits and add some more incentives,” she said. “We only pay Maxim for the time that we use their nursing service; that is a key piece.”

Board member Heidi Schutz questioned if Maxim had nurses located in Grand Island. Dexter said they do and that they currently serve Grand Island families.

She added Maxim already has 20 applicants for the two positions GIPS plans to contract out.

The board also bid farewell to Chief Transformation Officer Josh McDowell, who will begin his new role as superintendent of Crete Public Schools on July 1. McDowell has been chief transformation officer at GIPS since 2018. Previously, he was chief academic officer from 2016 to 2018, and director of curriculum and instruction from 2012 to 2016. He taught for two years in Kearney before coming to teach at GIPS.

McDowell, a Grand Island native, attended school at GIPS and graduated from Grand Island Senior High.

“A total of 27 years of my life has spent in Grand Island Public Schools,” he said. “I always think about how it has always prepared me for the next step. From a Wasmer wildcat, to Barr, to GISH, it prepared me to go to college. While I was there, I was ready to be there. But as I came back as a teacher, my experiences at Barr prepared me for that next leadership step. As I moved to this office, I have continued to feel supported and prepared for that next step.”

McDowell said he had “an incredibly long” list of people to thank for the successes he has had. He said GIPS has been there to support him every step of the way in his professional career and thanked the board and district administrators for their support.

GIPS Superintendent Tawana Grover said McDowell has been a “tremendous support” and that Crete is getting a “tremendous superintendent.”

For the record

In other action, the board:

— Held a public hearing on, and voted to approve, an update to a policy on suicide awareness. The update calls for all GIPS staff members having contact with students to undergo at least one hour of suicide preparedness training.

— Voted 8-0 to approve contract with Under Armour for athletic wear. The contract is for four years in the amount of $8,000 a year and a marketing material allotment of $500 in each of the first two years of the contract.

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