BULLHEAD CITY — Bullhead City elementary schools will remain nit-free zones.
The Bullhead City Elementary School District governing board on Thursday declined to amend policy related to head lice.
Currently, district policy states that students with pediculosis (lice infestation) shall be excluded from school until treated with a pediculicide.
District administrators had placed on the agenda an item relating to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say that children found to have head lice need not be sent home early, but can go home at the end of the day and return to class after appropriate treatment has started.
The CDC said that the lice eggs, known as nits, may remain on a child’s head after treatment, but that successful treatment should kill all crawling lice.
According to the CDC, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses recommend that “no-nit” policies such as the one in place at the BHCESD be discontinued, citing a low likelihood of nits becoming viable lice, a low probability of transferring them to other people, the likelihood of misdiagnosis resulting from nit checks by non-medical personnel and the burden that unnecessary absenteeism places on students, families and communities.
Benje Hookstra, the BHCESD’s assistant superintendent for instruction, said that no principals favored a change to the policy, all preferring to be certain to contain an infestation.
Board President Dennis Crane said he prefers to support administrators. No member made a necessary motion that would have led to a vote on the change.
Also at the meeting, Supt. Riley Frei presented a report on the district from the Arizona Office of the Auditor General.
The report said that the BHCESD outperforms or performs comparably to peer districts on most efficiency metrics, ranking “very low” in plant operations costs ($5.24 per square foot vs. $6.71 for peer districts) and transportation cost per rider ($369 vs. $728).
The BHCESD scored “very high” only in cost per mile ($4.96 versus $3.94 for peer districts and a state average of $3.84)
District spokesman Lance Ross said the BHCESD’s higher costs are related to its geographical spread and aging bus fleet.
The district spent a total of $8,071 per pupil last school year according to the report, more than 16 percent below the peer districts’ average of $9,624 and the state average of $9,653.
Frei and Hookstra attributed the difference other districts’ uses of bonds and property tax overrides to increase their budgets, and to more affluent districts’ ability to get more tax-credit donations.