Loudoun County Headteachers may phase out or relocate the Licensed Practical Nursing Program that is housed at Loudoun Academies in an effort to free up space for three new programs.
The school board’s ad hoc committee for Loudoun Academies recommended that the long-running course offered through Monroe Advanced Technical Academy be phased out, meaning it would stop enrolling new students, but the current 16 students in the program would not be affected by the change. The committee’s vote follows a recommendation from school administrators, who say they want to open up more options for more students. The LPN program would be replaced by three new programs: Mental Health Technology, Medical Systems Technology, and Biomedical Technology. This would double the number of pathways for high school students interested in health sciences and medicine and create room for 56 more students than the current LPN program can enroll.
While staff members initially suggested scrapping the program altogether, most board members at their Tuesday meeting said they would prefer to see the program moved.
Deputy Superintendent Ashley Ellis, who oversees the instructional department, said she is in talks with Northern Virginia Community College about possibly moving the program to its Loudoun campus. She also said there is enough space in the new Loudoun Academies to launch at least one of the three programs in the fall of 2019 without removing or moving the LPN course yet. “And that gives us time to explore more relocation options,” she said. “We are looking at all options.”
School board members Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) and Joy Maloney (Broad Run) said they were concerned that staff initially recommended phasing out the program only because they needed space for three new classes. Ellis explained that the course requires four full-time teachers for only 16 students, and only a quarter of students who take Loudoun’s LPN course complete the last postgraduate course and graduate.
Turgeon said he spoke to an administrator at Inova Loudoun Hospital, who said more than 50 high school students had participated in the Job for a Day program at the hospital. “The interest is there so I would hate to see that fall aside. … Hopefully we do it in a way that we don’t have a gap where it’s not offered for a year or two.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, student Carolyn Carey urged the board to keep the LPN program intact. “My own doctor informed me that his office hires many LPNs who graduate from this program,” she said. “This program is a catalyst for anyone interested in the medical field, especially nursing.”
Ellis told board members she would keep them informed as she continues to review options for moving the program.