Trustees adopt four new college programs

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Flathead Valley Community College’s board of trustees adopted several new certificates Monday related to the $3 million in grants the college received to develop short-term training for jobs in demand.

College President Jane Karas said the college curriculum committee recommended the programs. An advisory committee of industry leaders worked with the college to target the training and develop the curriculum for areas of job growth in the valley.

The new certificates don’t require approval by the Board of Regents, so the programs have cleared the last hurdle before launching in the fall semester. Each provides a path for students to train for careers in as little as one semester.

The new certificate programs are:

q Electronics Technician Level II (17/18 credits) and Level III (16 credits): Students in the Level II program study theory and work with electrical circuits to qualify for entry-level positions as technicians. For the Level III certificate, students study theory and work with advanced electronics including controllers and machine/system interfaces to qualify for advanced technician positions.

According to the program brochure, demand for these positions has grown by 70 percent since 2006 with wages above average in Montana as well as nationally.

q Pre-Health: Students study a broad area of health-related subjects to explore various careers and may prepare with one additional class to take licensing tests for Emergency Medical Technician or Certified Nurse Assistant. It was designed with flexibility for students to choose several career options.

q Emergency Dispatch (15 credits): Students acquire entry-level skills including learning dispatcher terminology, report writing, stress and crisis intervention strategies, legal responsibilities, ethics, criminal and civil laws relevant to emergency dispatch and computer applications.

Kris Long, instructor of paramedicine, said some people have gone through the hiring process to become emergency dispatchers but could not successfully train on the job.

“The goal with this, when we were approached, was to give them a better chance to be successful,” Long said. “Our 911 center is willing to offer hiring preferences to students who come out of this program.”

Long said the 911 center is providing all the equipment and classroom space for the training.

q Industrial Maintenance Technician Level II (18 credits): Students acquire a large range of skills including welding, machining, carpentry and electrical knowledge to become industrial mechanics. Areas of employment include large-scale manufacturing, energy generation, oil refining, chemical processing and wood products.

According to information in the brochure, machinery mechanics earn above average wages and the field is expected to grow by 15 to 30 percent over the next 10 years in Montana.

Trustees also voted to put on hold the relatively new Health Information Technology Certificate due to low enrollment. The program was designed to prepare people for jobs working with electronic medical records.

College Vice President Kristen Jones said the curriculum was developed by Brenda Rudolph, instructor of office technology, business and allied health.

“We thought it would be a very popular program,” Jones said. “She’s interested in gathering information to find out why we don’t have more students.”

Rudolph intends to revamp the program before reopening it for enrollment.

In other business, the board passed a resolution authorizing participation in the state’s Intercap loan program to borrow $1.2 million at 1 percent interest as a “bridge” loan to pay bills for construction of the new Broussard health building until pledges and donation commitments come to the college.

Karas said that the college remains on track to move into the new building over spring break. There will be a public grand opening at 4 p.m. on April 30.

The trustees moved their regular April board meeting to 3:45 p.m. on April 29 in Room 140/144 of Blake Hall.

Reporter Candace Chase may be reached at 758-4436 or by email at

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