Establish a health sciences high school
"In cooperation with our universities and community colleges, Bob McDonnell will establish at least one Virginia Health Sciences High School (academy or Governor's school) to specifically prepare students for further study in nursing, medical technology, pharmacy, medical equipment specialties and veterinary or medical school."
First step taken
Updated: Thursday, April 26th, 2012 | By Sean Gorman
Running for governor in 2009, Bob McDonnell said he'd work to expand the number of health care professionals in Virginia.
He made the following promise:
"In cooperation with our universities and community colleges, Bob McDonnell will establish at least one Virginia health sciences high school (academy or governor's school) to specifically prepare students for further study in nursing, medical technology, pharmacy, medical equipment specialties and veterinary or medical school,” his campaign said in a Sept. 10, 2009, position paper.
A health sciences high school hasn't opened since McDonnell became governor in January 2010. But Taylor Thornley, a spokeswoman for the governor, said McDonnell is pursuing the goal.
She pointed to McDonnell's successful budget request this year for $80,000 in grants to establish eight health science academies around the state. The money was included in the two-year state budget that was approved by the General Assembly this month and is now on the governor's desk.
"These grants will bring together interested parties, schools and community partners to lay the groundwork for health-science-focused academies,” Thornley said.
The Virginia Department of Education plans to seek proposals this spring for half of the grant money. The cash would be awarded in $5,000 portions to a school system in each of eight regions around the state, said Charles Pyle, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education.
The final plan for each academy would have to be approved by The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the Board of Education. Once that's done, the Education Department would award a second round of $5,000 to each of the schools to implement the programs.
Pyle said it's hoped that the academies will open in each region at the start of the 2013.
The new programs would be modeled after Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Academies -- known as STEM Academies -- which opened in 2008 under former Gov. Tim Kaine. The state helped the first six STEM programs come up with $720,000 in start-up money -- $500,000 through a grant from the National Governors Association and the rest from federal funds. The STEM courses are offered in high schools and technology centers.
The $80,000 lawmakers approved this spring for the health science academies marks the first time the state has dedicated its own money to start a STEM program.
Pyle said the health science academies, like the STEM programs, will be local initiatives that the state helps by providing technical assistance and seed money. The academies will not receive line item appropriations in the state budget for daily operations. Localities, however, are free to dedicate a portion of the state education money they receive to the programs.
So McDonnell is making progress on his pledge to start a health sciences academy and we'll watch for the opening. For now, we'll rate this a Promise In the Works.
McDonnell for Governor, "McDonnell, Bolling and Cuccinelli focus on health care,” Sept. 10 2009.
E-mails from Taylor Thornley, spokeswoman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, March 28-30, 2012.
Interviews and e-mails from Charles Pyle, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education, April 6 and April 19, 2012.
Gov. Tim Kaine, "Governor Kaine announces grants for first Governor"s career and technical academies,” Jan. 4, 2008.
Virginia Department of Education, "How to establish a governor"s stem academy,” accessed April 6, 2012.
C.S. Monroe Technology Center, "Introduction to health and medical sciences,” accessed April 16, 2012.
Department of Education, "Established STEM academies,” accessed April 16, 2012.
Department of Education, "Governor"s STEM academies,” accessed April 16, 2012.
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