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Crystal Lake’s District 155 to offer certified nursing assistant program starting next year

A new certified nursing assistant program in the works at Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155, including a new classroom complete with patient care beds.

The one-semester certification process will have students from throughout the school district receive instruction from a school nurse, with observation time and an internship.

A classroom at Crystal Lake Central High school will be renovated to mirror what a student would experience in a medical setting, including four patient care beds, Superintendent Steve Olson said. The district will use a $1.5 million Advance McHenry County grant awarded to District 155 in January to make the facility.

Nursing assistants provide basic care and help patients with activities of daily living.

Students can elect to enroll in the course, which starts next year.

The goal is to initially have 16 students enrolled, said Justin DeBolt, the district’s new director of career experiences. Open spots will go to juniors and seniors first, with any remaining offered to the younger students.

The move aligns with some of the district’s strategic plan components of collaborative partnerships and of students graduating with a purpose, Olson said.

Once students have a nursing assistant certificate, DeBolt said they will be able to choose from a number of paths, including taking classes at McHenry County College, a partner of District 155, or starting their career at a local nursing home or hospital.

When doing research for the district’s strategic plan in 2018, officials surveyed the community and learned of an interest for this type of programming.

“Through that process, 60% of people told us they want students to become more workforce ready,” Olson said. “Our vision is to be a relevant and vital part of the community.”

District 155 also boasts a commercial kitchen at Crystal Lake South High School, manufacturing labs at Cary-Grove High School and business incubators at Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge, DeBolt said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of nursing assistants and orderlies is projected to grow 8% from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 192,800 openings for nursing assistants and orderlies are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Median wages in 2020 were $30,830 annually.

The grant the district the received was part of Advance McHenry County, a program created by the McHenry County Board to help disperse the almost $60 million the county received from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress in spring 2021.

The Advance McHenry County program is currently in its first phase, which officials said will see half the total money used. Of the $29.8 million for phase one, $14 million is planned for infrastructure projects, while $8 million will be used for manufacturing, work development and job programs, officials said.

Along with the funding for the school district for the nursing assistant program, the first grants awarded last month went to help buy equipment at the new Foglia Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation at McHenry County College and to the Child Advocacy Center of McHenry County, which seeks to help child abuse victims.

Another two grants were awarded this month, one to the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center for training and other assistance to help local businesses and the other to create a summer internship program through the Manufacturing Pathways Consortium at McHenry County College.

The remaining $6 million will be split between nonprofit agencies, as well as special districts and local government bodies that did not receive American Rescue Plan funds, officials said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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