Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner Edgerton school district is set to introduce a fire fighting program for high school seniors in conjunction with Fire District No.1.
The program, under the career and technical education (CTE) project which currently enrolls 1600 students in different career cohorts is expected to start in the spring of 2020 according to coordinator of student services Mellissa McIntire.
Under the arrangement, the district will partner with the fire district to train at least 10 students annually with the expectation that upon graduation the students will be ready to join the force or pursue a career in fire-fighting elsewhere.
Once approved, the district will contribute $40,000 towards part of the instructor salary while the fire district will provide the facilities, equipment and the training.
Fire Chief Rob Clark told the district that the fire district intends to offer employment to the students who complete the program adding that there is utility in having fire fighters who come from the community working in the community.
“Having kids who come from this community joining our force means a lot to me,” he said adding that he and several other fire fighters in the district are graduates of Gardner Edgerton High school.
Scott Casey, the assistant Fire chief said that compared to other school districts in the area, USD 231 is getting a good deal under the proposed arrangement.
“A similar program in Shawnee Mission is funded 100% by the school district. Olathe school district pays 60% of instructor pay in addition to equipment and facilities,” he said.
Pam Stranathan, superintendent, said that the program is aimed at developing professional interest in the student population and delivering high quality education and skills needed to make the students marketable for employment in the fire fighting service.
McIntire said that interested students will fill out an application that will gauge their interest in the field and the district will determine the schedule of attendance.
Upon graduation the students will get high school credit for fire safety.
Under the CTE program, high school seniors have started training in various fields including medical, automotive mechanic and cosmetology.