Career Ctr. could add health care curriculum

Warren County School District officials have made an initial pitch to explore the possibility of bringing a health services program to the Warren County Career Center.

Superintendent Dr. William Clark said during Monday’s school board meeting that “vocational education is near and dear to my heart” and noted that the district should have “a direction for where we want to go with the Career Center.”

“We are asking for your consideration for approval to begin the process of adding a health cluster program to the Career Center,” Principal Dr. Darrell Jaskolka said.

Jaskolka cited three specific benefits or incentives to having such a program.

One would be “industry certification for entry-level employment opportunities” so that students are prepared for employment opportunities after graduation. Further, the program would prepare students for post-secondary training options and also “address employment needs within our community,” he said. “(We) believe there is a strong need for health services in the community.”

He explained to the board that licensed practical nurses are a “high priority position” in northwestern Pennsylvania. In exploring the possibility of a program in this area at the Career Center, officials visited similar programs in other districts and, according to Jaskolka, “all these programs have waiting lists” and some “actually have requirements for admission because there are so many students who want to get into these programs.”

Jaskolka put forth a tentative timeline for the process. The proposal would go before the school board for preliminary approval to allow administration to continue to explore the possibility in November or December and, between January and April, an occupational advisory committee will be formed. “That committee will walk us through what our needs are,” said Jaskolka. “Part of that process will entail a student interest survey and the subsequent state approval process.”

Jaskolka said that work to assemble the committee will not commence until the board gives exploratory approval. Once assembled, “they will be the experts that tell us what we do need.”

Next May, Jaskolka said that they “want to come back to the board and tell you where we are. We want to keep you in the loop every couple months (to) make you aware right up front where we’re going and what this is going to cost.”

Estimated cost to start such a program is approximately $150,000 including salaries for a teacher and an aide as well as all necessary equipment and facilities modifications.

According to the timeline, the curricular program would be developed next September and October and Career Center staff would market the program to prospective students late next year. Scheduling would occur in the spring of 2015 with the intent of beginning the program at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.

As for whether this program would affect other programs, Jaskolka said that it could feed people into programs at the Warren-Forest Higher Education Council and might affect the protective service program at the Career Center. “(We) might look to change it to a criminal justice program,” he said.