• Hope is to pilot program with elective course and grow it to be an attraction beyond the district
by Jim Boyle
Zimmerman High School was not awarded a federal grant worth millions of dollars to start a biomedical program, but that hasn’t dashed the dream of creating one at the school.
School administrators presented a proposal at the Jan. 6 Elk River Area School Board work session to start small with the hope of growing the program that would not only give Zimmerman High School students more choice but potentially draw students from across the school district and outside of the school district.
First-year costs are estimated at $138,000, which includes $84,000 for transportation that could conceivably bring kids from Rogers and Elk River High School.
The federal grant would have brought millions of dollars to the school to provide for a van, job shadowing and an opportunity to serve kids from all over the state.
“That would have been a dream,” Principal Marco Voce said.
The district’s plan is to start with one elective course, which if 25 students could be found, first-year costs would be decreased.
Voce and Assistant Principal Jason Savage explained that starting small will be a worthwhile. School Board members might be asked to run the program with as few as 10 to 15 students.
“We’d like to run it and get some legs for it,” Voce said.
The elective course would be have wide appeal to students interested in medicine and health care fields.
School Board Chairwoman Jane Bunting greeted the proposal with excitement, saying with one-third of high school students expressing an interest in sciences and technology that such a program makes great sense.
Zimmerman Middle School has lost some of its students to the Salk Magnet program, and a biomedical program is viewed as a way to get them back for high school.
The more students the biomedical program attracts, the stronger the school’s base of electives can become, Voce said.