The Woodward News

July 10, 2013

High Plains expanding health careers program

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — High Plains Technology Center is looking to expand its health careers program.

The HPTC Board of Education voted during their monthly meeting Monday night to hire a second health careers instructor.

Don Gaines, who previously worked in sports medicine with the University of Texas Longhorn's men’s basketball team, is the newest addition to the HPTC health careers staff.

HPTC Superintendent Dwight Hughes said  Gaines was hired because the school is trying to meet a growing demand for health careers classes.

"We actually had several people on a waiting list last year who we had to turn away because we're limited in how many students we can accept in a class," Hughes said.

Even so he said that Health Careers Instructor Polly Cottom was still "over-full with her current program."

So by hiring another health careers instructor, he said the school will be able to offer "more room in the program to accept more students."

In addition, the superintendent said Gaines' background will help to provide a different perspective on health career options.

"He'll bring that athletics and kinesiology aspect to the program, giving a different background than Polly's background in nursing," Hughes said.

This will allow the school to "have more course options available" within the broad spectrum of health careers, which includes everything from nursing and athletic training to vet technicians and phlebotomy, he said.


HPTC board members also took action Monday evening to approve a list of part-time staff positions.  Hughes said that there were "close to 50" names approved for the part-time list.

The superintendent told The News that the long list of names is routine for the July meeting, because "every division turns in names of the people they may use during the year, and we present it to the board in July before the school year starts so that if they do need to use them, then it's already been approved by the board."

He told board members on Monday evening that the list includes positions across the school's many educational disciplines from business and industry to adult training and development to safety instruction.  In addition, of the names approved for part-time positions Monday night, he said, "most have been on the list before."

In other routine business, the HPTC board approved the FY14 Organizational Chart, which Hughes said is "basically set up the same as last year," but would now include the addition of Gaines as a new instructor.

The board also approved several general fund encumbrances totaling over $1 million, a building fund encumbrance of $20,000, and payroll encumbrances of almost $4 million.  Hughes explained that these amounts were essentially what the school needed to kick off the new Fiscal Year and prepare for a new school year.

For example, he said that general fund encumbrances normally aren't as high, but this first round of encumbrances included ones "that will take us through the year." He said this included encumbrances for everything from "annual software agreements to fuel to utilities and long distance charges."

Board member Carol Bradley said that just because the board approves the encumbrances, that doesn't mean the school will necessarily spend that much money.

"This just encumbers the funds, which may or may not be used this year," Bradley said.


The HPTC Board of Education also listened to a presentation from Polly Cottom about the recent national conference and competition for the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), which was held last month in Nashville, Tenn.

A group of HOSA members from HPTC attended the event, including Brittany Roberts, Woodward High School senior; Heather Gunn, adult student from Seiling; Shivani Gandhi, Mooreland High School senior; and Christina Tuck, Woodward High School 2013 graduate.

Cottom said that the school was represented "very well" at the conference especially as "Heather Gunn placed second in the nation in the post-secondary prepared speaking" contest.  Gunn was presented with a medal and honored on stage in front of 5,400 other competitors from across the United States, she said.

In addition, High Plains Technology Center's HOSA chapter as a whole was recognized with a Merit Award for the National HOSA service project.  Cottom presented Hughes with the certificate and medal that the school received as part of the merit award.

She explained that the school's HOSA chapter was asked to help raise money toward the national service initiative to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  She said that the school "only had to raise $500 to qualify for the award, but we raised a total of $2,000" through various fundraisers over this past year.