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High (tech) hopes for new school

Officials aim to make technology and science the key components of proposed high school.

Officials aim to make technology and science the key components of proposed high school.

September 16, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

The most obvious customers are the students.

But the school system also has customers in terms of colleges who take in the county's students, and employers such as high-tech companies or the military who offer them jobs, said Trumble.

To help the proposed science and technology center reach its greatest potential, school officials need to meet with representatives of colleges that area students typically attend - and with high-tech employers in the region - to determine what the center needs to offer to help students land jobs in the well-paying high-tech field, Trumble said.

School officials could simply put the best computer in every classroom, but then that begs the question, "Technology for what?" Trumble said.

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"The technology is not going to exist alone. It's going to be part of a larger educational process," said Trumble, former vice president for science information systems for Quantum Research Corp., a Bethesda, Md., firm that designs computer systems for clients such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Trumble is one of many experts whom members of the Jefferson County Board of Education have tapped recently to give them advice on science and technology, impact fees and other topics.

Considering the abundance of high-tech jobs in nearby Dulles, Va., and the increasing number of Jefferson County residents working at those jobs, Board of Education members believe it is important for the school system to capitalize on that trend through the development of the proposed technology center.

Not only will training local high school students in high technology set them up for better-paying jobs, but hopefully it will attract more of those type of companies to Jefferson County, said Lori Stilley, president of the Board of Education.

To help pay for the $30 million high school and technology center, the board is applying for $15 million from the Economic Development Grant Council, a newly formed state committee that was set up to distribute about $200 million for economic development projects in the state.

School officials said they plan to seek the rest of the money from the state School Building Authority.

Board of Education members are hoping to learn whether they will receive the $15 million request within two weeks.

The proposed new high school will offer traditional studies, but because there is flexibility in how those are offered, students can specialize in high technology, said Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols.

Students successfully completing the program should be able to land jobs in areas such as computer repair, or continue their education at the college level, school officials said.

Specifics such as what type of computer equipment would be needed to run the center have not been determined because the focus is winning funding for the project, said Board of Education member Delores Milstead.

Milstead said school officials also want the center to train adults who want to enter the high-tech field.

The building will be designed so wings can easily be opened at night to offer adult training, said Milstead.

"We want this school to be a community center," said Milstead.

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