AHS seniors can get college-level training to become medical assistants

The Aberdeen School Board on Tuesday approved an agreement with Grays Harbor College to jointly offer a Medical Assistant Program to train a limited number of high school seniors beginning this fall.

It’s a career in health care that sorely lacks enough properly trained people to fill job openings. Because finding skilled workers is a challenge, area health care professionals approached educators about 18 months ago about offering such training, said Lynn Green, director of the district’s Skills Center.

“It feels good to be creating this program for our students and the entire community. And it’s a high-demand field that pays a good wage,” she said.

The program is scheduled to begin next fall on the college campus. During that first year of the two-year program, there will be 10 slots for seniors from Aberdeen High School and 10 slots for college students.

Student composition of the program in its second year will be from among the 20 students originally from both schools, though all would be Grays Harbor College students by that point. Ten more first-year students will enter the program from the high school in 2018 and every subsequent year.

Green said expectations for the high school students will be the same as those for the college students and that the high school students will earn college credit for their efforts. The goal is to produce 20 fully trained professionals each year from the two-year program.

The college will hire staff to run the program and evaluate students’ performance. The class schedule will mirror the high school’s trimester system that also starts in the fall. The district and college will share program costs, Green added.

Buying portable classrooms

Board members also approved a request from staff to acquire portable classrooms for use at Stevens and A.J. West elementary schools. Both campuses need additional classroom space as soon as this coming fall.

Cost for purchase and placement of two used portables — one for each of the two campuses — will total $300,000.

The district plans to build a new Stevens Elementary campus and eventually move the district’s sixth graders to Miller Junior High. But the need to alleviate crowding at Stevens and A.J. West is approaching sooner rather than later, said Superintendent Tom Opstad.

The district also wants to move the sixth graders up to Miller all at one time, he said.