From the Coulee News: West Salem School Board considers nursing program - Coulee News

West Salem students may soon be able to take nursing classes as part of their curriculum.

School board members heard a pitch from high school guidance counselor Cathy Tyink at their regular meeting Monday. Tyink asked the board to consider collaborating with Sparta High School in a program that uses Western Technical College faculty to give nursing students a jump start on their careers.

Nursing assistant courses are the most popular choice among students who participate in Youth Options, a program that allows students to take college courses, for college credit, while still attending high school. The district picks up the tab and students can take courses at UW-La Crosse, Viterbo and Western Technical College.

We look at the students background, what the preparation is and class rank, said high school principal Mark Carlson. The students pretty much need to exhaust what we offer here before they can go on and take college courses.

Tyink said the program is so popular because nursing assistant certification is necessary to gain admittance to college nursing programs.

Theyre really good jobs right now, she said, adding that many nursing assistant jobs start at $13 per hour with benefits.

Tyink then proposed moving the program from Youth Options to the West Salem curriculum starting in the spring semester of the 2009-10 school year. Rather than force students to take night classes intended for 20-somethings, the program would offer the same courses during the day at Sparta.

I see it being popular for many years to come, she said.

Sparta has had its own contracted nursing assistant course with Western Technical College. One section of the program would draw between 10 and 13 students. West Salem would be guaranteed six of those positions. Another section could be opened if necessary.

Board members voiced concerns over cost for the program, especially transportation costs.

I think its an awesome idea, said board member Ann Bina. She asked if the costs of transporting students had been determined.

No transportation estimate was available. Other board members suggested looking into distance learning to avoid the cost of daily transport of those students back and forth from Sparta.

Tyink said that because the course is 50 percent classroom and 50 percent onsite, distance learning might not be practical. She suggested perhaps the schools could host the program to cut costs.

A separate motion to approve a number of students wishing to take Youth Options courses was approved.

Six of those students planned to take nursing assistant courses.