the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a $4.4 million fundraising plan that will raise money for a new building for San Marcos High School Health Career Academy and upgrading the school’s wellness center and mental health services.
Schools Royal Pride Foundation will lead fundraising efforts to match a district bond of $4.4 million, for a total of approximately $8.8 million for the project. Funds already secured for the project include a $674,393 grant from the state K-12 Strong Workforce Program for the Health Career Academy and a $25,000 donation from the Mosher Foundation.
San Marcos High School principal Kip Glazer said she has already heard strong community support and interest in the project, particularly to improve the mental health resources offered at the school.
“When I share my idea [for the project], people see the potential and want to help,” Glazer said.
Part of the project includes a new building for the school Health Careers Academy to create a hub for the program, which has provided opportunities for students interested in pursuing a career in the medical field for over 20 years.
San Marcos High School’s Health Careers Academy, in its 21st year, is a three-year program that students can start in 10th grade to gain real-world experience for a career in health care.
“We are extremely diverse,” said Marcene Tate, director of the Health Career Academy. “As of last year, we have had 579 students graduate from the program.”
Renderings of the plan for building a new Health Careers Academy at San Marcos High School. (photo added)
Tate said the program has seen 273 students graduate as certified nursing assistants through SBCC courses offered to students at the Health Career Academy.
“Some of the most rewarding things about this program is finding out where students end up later in life,” Tate said, mentioning how students became doctors at Cottage Hospital or nurses in the operating room. “It’s nice to be part of a program that really prepares students for careers and post-secondary education. »
The new building will include a large demonstration room and four new classrooms — one of which will be a medical biology lab, Glazer said — as well as a principal’s office and storage.
It will also allow the Health Career Academy to expand and improve its sports medicine program.
The other part of the expansion project is to upgrade the high school wellness center to provide more school mental health services.
“This week alone we had one or two students a day who had an anxiety attack or needed mental health services,” Glazer said.
Glazer said the current center will be built to include a health attendant area, as well as three small therapy rooms, a community outreach area and a large therapy room where group therapy can take place.
“The goal of this project is to link school-based mental health services with technical health career education,” Glazer said. “This will expand opportunities for our students.”
The fundraising plan will proceed in two phases, Glazer explained, with the first stage soliciting major donations from foundations and individuals, providing naming rights opportunities. The next step will be soliciting smaller donations from the public, though Glazer said anyone can donate as much as they want, noting that every dollar counts.
Kristi Newton, a Royal Pride Foundation board member who is leading fundraising efforts, said foundations and individuals can also make pledges and donate in stock.
Glazer and Newton said this project solves two important problems – the shortage of health professionals and the increased demand for mental health services.
“It’s not just a one-off solution,” Newton said. “It’s a long-term solution with lasting impacts.”
Glazer said she expects the whole process to take about two years, although the sooner funds are raised, the sooner construction can begin.
She also said that if the campaign raises $1.5 million soon, they could begin expanding the wellness center.
Glazer will share more information and progress at the Royal Pride Foundation’s annual Royal Gala scheduled for 6pm on April 25.
“At this point we will be much further into the planning,” Newton said.