Health academy plans set

Published 12:06 am Sunday, November 24, 2013

School district officials have fleshed out plans for a health and medical sciences magnet specialty program at Lakeland High School, outlining a budget for the first year, amongst other details.

The High School Health and Medical Science Academy would kick off in the 2014-2015 school year with a budget of $69,044, Douglas Dohey, the district’s director of secondary leadership, said during this month’s regular School Board meeting.

Estimated spending would be divided between a Project Lead the Way participation fee, personnel, training, travel for training, student transportation, core supplies and what was listed as Principles of Biotechnology Systems, Dohey reported in his presentation.

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Funds for the program would come from a combination of local money, grants and federal funds, he said.

“We are open to donations, but we can’t count on that for the ongoing budget,” Dohey said, responding to a question from board member Linda Bouchard on the possibility of private investment.

The district’s thinking behind establishing the academy is to prepare students to capitalize on increasing future demand for health care workers, with the U.S. Department of Labor tipping the industry’s growth between 2006 and 2016 to generate three million new wage and salary jobs, according to Dohey.

He said the academy at Lakeland, which would take students from all three public high schools in Suffolk, would promote awareness of the wide variety of jobs available in the industry and turn out students that are “workforce-ready.”

“Health care is where the jobs are and will be,” Dohey said.

An advisory board of industry professionals would help guide the program, he said, including formulating curricula and providing experience, which would also be assisted by partnerships and private and public health care professionals and facilities.

Placements would involve internships in clinical and research programs, with opportunity for job shadowing, volunteer service and mentoring.

Dohey said an initial cohort would consist of 20 students, with the program later taking up to 80 students.

Tentative next steps toward starting the academy include a survey of middle school students in the spring, determining the curricula in November and December, approving new courses in February, interviewing and hiring in March, and selecting an initial cohort in May.

The district’s existing specialty programs are Project Lead the Way at Nansemond River High School and the International Baccalaureate program at King’s Fork High School.