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Funding for the first year of a course that would earn college credit passed the Senate this summer.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - A Scappoose Fire District engine participates in a parade in 2021.Future Scappoose High School students may be able to take a course in emergency services, thanks to a partnership developing between the school, Scappoose Fire District and Portland Community College.

The course would earn students college credit through PCC.

Scappoose Fire District Chief Jeff Pricher said the course would include the standard curriculum in an introductory course to emergency services at PCC, plus a robotics component and opportunities for ride-alongs in an ambulance, fire truck or fire boat.

Plans are still in the early stages, pending the approval of federal funding included in the latest federal budget working through Congress.

The robotics section would include getting students licensed as drone operators. The Federal Aviation Administration allows the operation of unmanned aircraft at night and over people and moving vehicles only with certification under what it calls Part 107.

"The thought process behind this is UAS — uncrewed aircraft systems — are an up-and-coming industry," meaning that an introduction in high school could help students get started on a growing career path, Pricher said.

The fire chief added: "We thought it would be an awesome opportunity to expose our high school students to potential careers that they might not have ever known about or thought about."

Students would receive their Part 107 certification and additional training for accreditation through the Airborne Public Safety Association.

Scappoose High School principal Jerimy Kelley said the school is "very excited to offer an opportunity like this to our students."

"My hopes are that we are able to offer students another opportunity to develop skills that could lead to career opportunities in their future," Kelley said.

The Scappoose Fire District already has two staff members who can lead classes: Maria Heath, one of the district's public information officers and a licensed teacher, and Miguel Bautista, the training division chief, who also holds a Ph.D in public safety and teaches at Eastern Oregon University.

"We have some pretty significant depth to put on this educational program at the high school and … help our high school students get a leg up as they venture out into the world and/or into college, if that's the path that they choose," Pricher said.

The course may operate as a weekly class in the afternoon, but that could change. It doesn't make sense to nail down too many details until the funding is secured, Pricher said.

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley included $198,000 for the program in the Senate appropriations bills for fiscal year 2023, they announced this summer. The 2023 fiscal year started Oct. 1, 2022, but as is now typical, Congress has yet to actually pass the budget bills. Congress instead has authorized continuing resolutions to temporarily fund the federal government.

The last omnibus appropriations bill wasn't passed by both chambers of Congress until May 10, more than five months into the fiscal year.


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