In the middle of a divisive state Senate budget session that ended only last week, Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) chalked up a million dollar capital budget appropriation for the Friday Harbor High School STEM program.
The money will be used to remodel the tech-vocational education building, now dilapidated and in need of major upkeep, into a functional Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) program center. Because it's a capital, not operating, appropriation, the money must be used for "bricks and mortar" - and for equipment and technology.
Superintendent Rick Thompson praised and thanked Ranker for securing the appropriation.
"Kevin's given us a great boost for our STEM program and for the entire school system," said Thompson, pointing out that the school had recently received a "Lighthouse Grant" for curriculum and classroom support necessary to develop a full-scale STEM program.
"STEM builds on itself, giving us leverage to obtain other competitive grants and to put tax money to good use, so that our kids get the best education possible."
In addition to Ranker, Thompson credited Career and Technical Education Director Larry Wight and school board members Ralph Hahn and Jack McKenna for several years of work in developing and advancing the STEM program at FHHS.