Preparing students for careers in public safety is the goal of a new Public Safety Pathway being created jointly by Salina Area Technical College and USD 305.
Salina Tech President Greg Nichols and Salina Schools Superintendent James Hardy signed an agreement Friday morning formalizing the new pathway; it has already been approved by Salina Tech’s Board of Trustees and the Salina Board of Education.
Starting in the fall of 2018, juniors at Salina Central and Salina South will be able to enroll in a series of courses, taught by officers in the Salina Police Department, starting with “Introduction to Public Service Careers” and “Introduction to Emergency Communications.” In the fall.
In the second semester of their junior year, students will take “Introduction to Criminal Justice” and “Introduction to Fire Science.”
Additional courses in the senior year will go deeper into either Police Science or Fire Science, depending on the student’s interests. Students who complete the pathway will have earned at least 24 college credit hours. The courses will also count as electives toward high school graduation requirements.
Except for that initial “Introduction to Public Service Careers” course, which will be taught by a USD 305 teacher, courses will be taught by Salina Police officers or Salina Firefighters, with full support by the City of Salina.”
Stephani Johns-Hines, Vice President of Instruction at Salina Tech, said that while there are other high schools in Kansas that offer Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security Pathways, this is the only concurrent credit model to her knowledge that operates in the high school, taught by subject matter experts from local agencies, and supported by the city. That makes it an extremely effective use of area resources with potential to keep students local, reinvesting into the community.
The State of Kansas will pay the students’ tuition for most of the classes through the Kansas Excel in CTE program (CTE stands for Career and Technical Education). Salina Tech has agreed to waive tuition for classes not covered by the Excel in CTE program.
Students in the Fire Science Pathway will be encouraged to take an Emergency Medical Technician course during the summer between their junior and senior years, becoming certified as an EMT.
Linn Exline, Executive Director of School Improvement for USD 305, said the idea of the district creating a Public Safety Pathway extends back to 2011. A Career and Technical Education (CTE) task force was working on ways the district could prepare students for careers that are needed locally.
“The Salina Fire Department is always hiring, the Salina Police Department is always hiring,” Exline said. “These are high-demand, high-paying careers.”
The CTE task force determined at the time that firefighting and law enforcement should be among the top four priorities.
“Our mission at Salina Tech is to meet the employment needs of the region and that’s true whether that employment need is in manufacturing, health care, or public safety,” Johns-Hines said.
“It’s a good thing for us to do in the community,” said Salina City Manager Jason Gage. “It’s a great partnership. Eventually, we hope to have recruits for our police and fire departments who have come up through this program. We want quality people in the long term, and this helps build that.”
Upon graduating from high school, students who pursue the Fire Science option and are 18 years of age will be eligible to take the state’s fire science certification test. Upon passing the test, they’ll be eligible to be hired as firefighters in Salina and elsewhere around the state.
Kansas requires law enforcement officers be at least 21, but graduates of the Police Science option will be able to work in other capacities, such as corrections officers. They will also be able to continue their education at Salina Tech, earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Police Science, which Johns-Hines expects the college to offer beginning in the spring of 2018.
The Police Science program will also offer officers who have completed Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center requirements 12 credit hours of Credit for Prior Learning to be applied toward an Associate of Applied Science in Police Science and, in recognition for the extended training done by our local Kansas Highway Patrol Training Academy, KHP graduates receive an additional 8 credit hours toward an Associate of Applied Science in Police Science.
The full Police Science program is pending approval from the Kansas Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission with approval anticipated in January 2018.
Story by Mike Strand / Salina Area Technical College
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