School board considers plan to expand private health clinics in Anchorage schools
The Anchorage School Board is considering a proposal to expand private health clinics in public schools. Right now, the only schools in the district that house the clinics are Begich Middle School and Clark Middle School.
Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said she supports the idea of expanding the services to more schools.
The clinics are a partnership between the Anchorage School District and the nonprofit Christian Health Associates, with the stated goal of providing “quality, coordinated health services on site to students to support their success at school and in life.”
Heather Ireland, the program director for the Anchorage School Based Health Centers, said the program receives no funding from the Anchorage School District, only the space in which to operate.
Ireland said the clinics can provide more services than the school nurse, including conducting full physicals and the ability to write prescriptions. There’s also mental health counseling available. Ireland said having the behavioral health component is already affecting struggling students in a positive way.
“We’ve seen dramatic decreases in the time that they are in school suspension, at the nurse’s office,” Ireland explained. “They are in class functioning at a higher level.”
The clinics are funded through private donations and grants. Ireland said they also bill for their services if students have some form of insurance. If not, families are asked to pay a modest amount on a sliding fee scale.
The school board is considering whether to allow the program to expand into other schools. A vote on the issue is expected at the next board meeting on April 3.
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